5 things I want to tell your next boss when she calls to check your references

I genuinely care about the individuals that I interact with professionally. I hope that they would agree. Whether you are a vendor, a client, a coworker, a direct report, or other I think often about whether my professional relationship with you will benefit your career in the long term or if you’ll look back on our interactions and think, ‘I didn’t get much out of that’. Unfortunately I have felt the regret of spending time employed by an employer who gave me ‘a job’ but didn’t necessarily help me develop personally.

I often have employers call me as a reference and ask me about former colleagues or employees, and I truly love to give outstanding reviews when they are deserved. As i’ve done this in recent years, there have been a number of characteristics that i’ve found common among the best individuals i’ve had the privilege to interact with professionally. Here are the 5 things I want to be able to tell your next potential employer when they call me as one of your references:

  1. No excuses, just solutions. I want to confidently tell your next boss that you are the type of person who doesn’t make excuses. I want her to know that when you hit snags or find elements of your job that seem difficult, you’ll see the opportunity and work diligently to find solutions that help solve her problems.
  2. He’s a team player. The wrong employee can quickly destroy a team. Your potential employer has likely already seen this. If I can assure her that I’ve seen you perform in a team environment and you not only play nice with others but thrive as a key part of a highly functional team, she’ll be more likely to want you on board.
  3. He’s got a ‘good motor’. A client once told me that they look for people who have a ‘good motor’….people who don’t need excessive attention to stay motivated and perform consistently. If I can assure her that when she’s in a meeting off site that you’ll continue to execute without being supervised, she will choose you over another candidate with your same resume.
  4. He never criticizes or complains. Your new boss has had to read emails or sit in meetings about the employee who is nostalgic for grade school and likes to ‘stir the pot’. The thought of hiring another person like this on her team likely makes her stomach churn. If I can tell her that in my interactions with you I haven’t seen even a hint of that, your chances just got even better.
  5. Not hiring him would be a mistake. I once felt so strongly about a reference that I boldly told a hiring manager that passing up on a candidate who was applying would be a huge mistake. I’d spent a lot of time with this individual and couldn’t more highly recommend someone for the open position. I had no reservations in making that statement and they ultimately got the job….not because of my recommendation, but because they had all of these characteristics and more.

If you want to land your dream job in the future, do yourself a favor and act like a dream employee at your current job….not just at work but in any situation where your reputation is being built. If you consistently act like the dream employee you’ll have more opportunities present themselves than you will ever have time to take advantage of.