Are Your References “Professional”?

What do your professional references say about you? Ever think about it? You should because no matter how good your interview went, if your references don’t say good things about you….you’re not getting that new job you want. Seems kinda harsh doesn’t it? But it’s true, a bad reference can single handedly sink an otherwise great opportunity.Ironically, most people pay little to no attention to their references. I hear things like “I haven’t talked to him in ages.”, “I didn’t really work that closely with her.”, “I’m just his friend” but my favorite is the “one word answers” – yep, no, yes, maybe, absolutely. Joking aside, if you aren’t taking the time to really cultivate and inform your professional references you are putting yourself at a disadvantage in any job search. Someone who takes their job search seriously has educated, informed, prepared and PREDICTABLE references. I recall a candidate interaction a long time ago where the recruiter asked a reference “Would you hire so and so again?”. Simple stuff, nothing major, should be a straight forward response and it was just that….”I wouldn’t hire that guy to stock shelves”. End of interview, no hire, thanks for playing. If your references say they wouldn’t hire you again, it’s pretty bad but when they go out of their way to torpedo your application it’s apocalyptic.Without further adieu, a few quick tips on how to give the best professional references:1) Give people who you know, trust and who will absolutely, positively say nice things about you – I know, right, who WOULDN’T do that? You’d be surprised. I’m not even going to talk about this anymore, do your homework, call your references so when they talk to potential a employer they don’t throw you under the bus.2) Give a former manager – Again, I know, not rocket science. I’m always happy to hear how great a guy someone is, or how they play a mean guitar or how they can finish Halo without dying……….but, at the end of the day it doesn’t matter. I want to talk to someone who can tell me what kind of an employee you’ll be once you are hired. Former managers are critical to making sure any potential employer can get the info they need to hire you without reservation. If you don’t have a former manager who’ll say nice things, try someone else in a leadership role. You need someone besides your lunch buddies to say nice things about you, especially in a competitive job market like we have now.3) Make sure your references are available and expecting the call – This one drives recruiters crazy. Nothing more frustrating than leaving voice mail after voice mail for a reference only to follow up with an email that bounces back “On vacation until September 2013″. Good times! It’s common courtesy for everyone involved and will help also make sure our references say nice things about you.4) Have a few people recommend you on LinkedIn – Simple stuff, and frankly it doesn’t matter if this is a former manager or not. With the rise of social networking, more and more companies are searching the web for potential hires. No better way to reinforce that you are a quality hire than to have a well groomed LinkedIn profile that has several people singing your praises.5) Keep in touch with your references to make sure you have a big stable of people to use -This is the final tip, and probably the most important. You want to keep in touch with people who can serve as great professional references. Seriously, think about it. How many former managers can you give that would say nice things about you? The more you have, the better off you’ll be long term. You don’t need to talk to them every day, week or even every month however, you should be just touching base once every quarter or two, JUST in case you need them or, get this…..maybe they need you. That’s right, your former boss may be looking for a job and need a “former direct report” to say nice things…next think you know you guys are colleagues again. So, trust me on this one, figure out who will give you a stellar reference and then maintain and build on that relationship.That’s it, nothing crazy, nothing complicated. Follow these simple tips and I can guarantee you’ll have much more success converting those interviews into offers.

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Airline Travel Tips – Tips for Family Flying

Flying can be an exciting and enjoyable experience, especially if you are heading out on a family vacation. Here are some airline travel tips to make your trip as smooth as possible.Getting a good seat is important, especially if you are going to be traveling on a long flight. When booking your ticket, you can often get a copy of the seating plan for your particular aircraft. Take a look at it before deciding on your seats. You’ll need to make your decision on whether you’d like an aisle seat, a window seat, or perhaps you’d like to sit on the exit row which has more leg room but may have non-reclining seats on some planes. Keep in mind that children will not be allowed to sit on the exit rows, so don’t select these seats if you have young children flying with you. If you don’t get lucky on the seating when you book your flight, you can ask for better seats when you check in. This doesn’t always work but it’s worth a try. As a last resort, if the flight is not full, the flight attendants will often allow you to switch seats if you ask them once you board the flight.How can you avoid flight delays? Well, most of the time there is nothing much you can do about this as you are at the whim of the weather, traffic, and other uncontrollable reasons for delay. However, booking a non-stop flight can lessen the likelihood that you will be delayed since there will be no airports to stop at in between which is the usual cause of going off schedule.Watch for thieves in the airports. Happy-go-lucky vacation-going people are easy prey for thieves in the airport because they often, in the excitement of a trip. don’t pay attention as well as they should. Keep a careful eye on your purse or carry-on.Check to see how early you need to arrive and make sure you allow time for traffic in order to get there on time. Due to all the security, lines can be very long so better to arrive early and have extra time than be rushing to the gate.Make sure you have all the paperwork you will need such as boarding ticket, passport if you need one, birth certificate if that may be needed, and photo ID.Get a list of what can and cannot be brought on board in your carry-ons. These rules change periodically so get an up-to-date list from your airline.Since airlines routinely overbook, assuming some people will not show up, you will want to reduce the possibility of getting bumped by either checking in online before you leave home, or arriving early to check in. This ensures the best chance of keeping your seat. The good news is if do happen to be bumped off your flight, the airline is required to pay you compensation. This could be tickets, seat upgrades, or frequent flyer miles, and other bonuses.Use these airline travel tips on your next flight, and you will reduce the possibility of having anything go wrong on your vacation.