5 Tips to Prepare Your References in a Global Job Search

Posted on Jul 30, 2015 | 11 comments

5 Tips to Prepare Your References in a Global Job Search

Your references can be some of the most powerful people in your job search. They have the ability to tip the scales either way when they talk to your potential employers. Don’t leave what they say up to chance! Prepare your references for who is going to be contacting them and what you want them to say. Try these five strategies to make sure you get what you need from your references without sounding pushy.


#1 Make sure to choose references who can speak about the skills you have for your next job.

It seems obvious that you should choose references that you’re certain will speak highly of you, but you’d be surprised how many people ignore this basic fact. Furthermore, a lot of times people don’t think about the relevance of a reference to a potential employer. If your reference supervised you in a data entry position in college and really thought you were fantastic but now you’re in your second job out of college and you are a project manager, it’s possible that your reference is outdated no matter how much you have kept in contact with that person or how much that person admires your work.



#2 Inform your references about your job search.

It goes without saying that your references should always be informed that they are on your list of references. (Oh please, oh please tell me that you do that!) If your references know that you are applying to Company X then they will be sure to look out for an email from Company X because they will know it relates to you. If you don’t tell them that you are applying to Company X, they may assume the email is junk and delete it. In a global job search, this is especially important because some of the companies or organizations you may be applying to will be extremely unfamiliar to people in your home country.



#3 Give your references some information about your potential employer.

Your references won’t always know which of your many stellar attributes they should talk about if contacted by an employer they’re unfamiliar with, as is common in global job searches. To make it easier for your reference, provide a little bit of guidance.

Do this easily by sending an email that looks a little bit like this:


Dear Mike,


Just wanted to drop you a quick email to let you know that I’m applying for a new position at the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium. I have an interview next week and I expect them to check my references soon. Since you have so kindly allowed me to list you as a reference, I wanted to give you a heads up.


One of their areas of focus is on “prime givers” (while we used the term “legacy donors”), which is their way of categorizing donors who make contributions of $500,000 or more. I’d love for you to mention my work in developing relationships with these types of donors when we worked together.


I hope all is well with you, Sharon, and the kids!


Thanks for your help in this!




#4 Ask your references to write a letter.

Or better yet, draft the letter for them and ask them to sign it. (Feels weird, I know. But this actually occurs in about half the cases that you ask references for a letter of recommendation.)


The fact is that employers sometimes don’t have time or the staff to check references. This means you don’t get the benefit of someone else telling the employer exactly how wonderful you are. But, if you provide a letter of recommendation (or three) along with your resume and cover letter, the information that your references would communicate in an email or a phone call when they are contacted is right in front of the future employer’s face.


This also has a side benefit of giving the references some notes and examples to use if they are contacted by email or phone. And, in a global job search, you may need to translate your resume and cover letter. Your references may not speak the foreign language, but you can translate the letter.



#5 Ask your references to endorse you on LinkedIn.

Because your new position may take you far away from where you currently live, you want to make sure it’s incredibly easy for your future employer to check your references in the easiest way possible. This may mean that your future employer doesn’t contact your references directly but does look over your LinkedIn profile. If you’ve got several people endorsing you for the specific skills necessary for your next job, that just might be enough to tip the scales in your favor and get you the job offer!




Passport Career provides more detailed career information and extensive resources about networking, finding a job, internship, or alternative career opportunities. If your organization, embassy, university/college, library, or other institution would like access to our country portfolios (15,000+ pages of expert content for 80+ countries and 250+ cities) to share with your students, employees, spouses/partners, and others managing a national or international career transition, please contact us (or send email to: info@passportcareer.com) regarding a free, live, online demo and details on how to obtain a license to access Passport Career.

Anna Sparks, Expert Global Career Consultant


  1. Nice read, I just passed this onto a friend who was doing some research on that. And he actually bought me lunch because I found it for him smile Thus let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch! “No one can wear a mask for very long.” by Seneca.

  2. I could not refrain from commenting. Exceptionally well written!

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  6. This is a good tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere.
    Brief but very precise information… Thank you for
    sharing this one. A must read post!

  7. The issue of involving the references is new to me. I wish i have known it before for it would have made my work easier. Helping the recent grads to have a career its great. I would outline several mistake the grads do while finding for a job. These are; Relying solely on the Internet, Misusing the Internet, Not customizing your resume, Using the wrong resume format, Failing to follow up, Not willing to pay dues and Failing to craft a brand for yourself. Keep to these tips and you will find easy way to your professional career. Preparing for the interview and the interview questions related to what they do.

    • Hello from Ecuador! Great tips! Especially not relying only on the Internet. You’ve got to get out and meet people, not just hide behind your computer screen!

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