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Tips on How Deaf Job Seekers Can Select the Best Work References

When the job offer is just a recommendation away, make sure you choose the right people to give it.

You know you are nearing the final lap of the interview process when you get the e-mail that asks: “Could you provide us with some work references to contact?” This is excellent news because it typically means that the employer is still interested in you, and you are closer to a job offer. However, the unemployment rate is higher in the deaf or hard of hearing community, and it is going to be even more crucial to have solid work references on your side that are prepared for the call (or e-mail), ready to discuss to your skills and will help you secure that job offer. Here are some tips for you, as a deaf or hard of hearing job seeker, make sure that you have the right people to give out good work references about you.


1. Who should I ask to be a reference? Hiring managers and recruiters cannot rely on friends and family members for work references, even if they think you are the greatest thing in the world. In other words, your friends and family members have zero place being on your reference list. Unless a manager or recruiter specifically asks you for a personal reference, all the people you picked for work references should be third-party individuals with whom you have had a professional relationship. At least one of your work references should be a former boss, supervisor or manager, who can relate your ability to work under pressure, complete tasks on time, and pitch in as a team player.

2. Should I list my references be on my resume? Absolutely not. Your resume should focus solely on your career objectives, education, skills, and work experience. You do not want to use up valuable resume space with information that hiring managers and recruiters are not interested in at this point. There is also no need to list “References available upon request.” Managers and recruiters will ask for your references if they want them, without a doubt.

3. Should I ask my references ahead of time? Absolutely. You never want anyone to be surprised and unprepared when it comes to sharing their opinion of you. Let them know well in advance that potential employers may contact them about your work performance. It is best to sit down and prepare a list of former managers and co-workers with whom you had a solid, productive working relationship and let them know ahead of time you are starting a job search. Do not make the mistake of simply asking them to be a reference for you. Instead, prepare them with some of the details of the job you are pursuing and provide them with some talking points on how they can compare those details with your previous work. If you know the job you are pursuing is looking for leadership or management skills, point that out to your potential reference, and connect it with a time you displayed leadership at the company or organization where you worked together. The talking points will give them solid examples to recall when they are talking to the hiring manager.

4. What if I do not want anyone at my current job to know I’m interviewing? This is always a tough one, particularly if many of the details of the job description you are going for are skills you are acquired at your current job position. In addition, the deaf and hard of hearing community is very small, and many people know each other, especially if you want to work at a deaf-related company or organization. If you are in this situation, it can be hard to keep your job search a secret; however, the employers must keep your job application confidential. Your best bet in this situation is to ask a co-worker you have come to trust to serve as a peer reference, or possibly a co-worker or manager who recently left the company or you have previously worked with at a different job position. If you are in a situation where you absolutely cannot let anyone associated with your company or organization know that you are looking elsewhere, explain this to the hiring manager, and offer to provide an additional reference or two from previous job positions if it helps them to feel more secure about your background and work performance.

With a little planning and some careful consideration of your options, you can pick work references that will help you prove you are an excellent job candidate and more than qualified for the job!


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