Alliance Resources

News, information and insights from your partner in finance and accounting staffing and recruitment.

New Year, New Career Opportunities: Manage Your References for 2024

Year-end is a valuable exercise in self-reflection and career decision-making for Accounting and Finance professionals. As you wrap up annual assessments and focus on goal planning for the New Year, it’s a good time to carefully weigh career options. As we approach 2024, one key trend has remained consistent for three years: It’s a hot job market for Accounting and Finance talent with more jobs than skilled people to fill open positions.

As reported in our Q4 2023 Quarterly Barometer, we have seen the talent supply in Southern California dwindle for various reasons, including people leaving the industry in pursuit of other careers, out-of-state relocations, and fewer college graduates entering the field. The demand for Accounting and Finance professionals continues to outpace the supply. Now is the time to set up interviews that will advance your career as companies remain competitive with benefit packages, compensation, and professional development opportunities.

As you prepare for your job search, you’ve probably got the basics covered:

But here’s one thing you might not be thinking about. Hiring managers are moving faster than ever to snap up talent, so you should have your professional references ready once that offer comes in.

Here are five tips for actively managing your references.

1) Update your contact list: Accuracy is critical, and it may have been a while since you last reviewed your list. Ensure emails and phone numbers are up to date, checking titles and company names.

2) Select contacts carefully: When considering who will be a good reference, think about your relationship with that person, significant projects on which you collaborated, or a leadership position where you excelled. Choose former colleagues and peers who can speak to your skillset and expertise. If you haven’t spoken in a while, use this opportunity to reconnect. Share a fond memory or express how they impacted your career. Seeking a reference can be a great opportunity to reinforce and build your professional network.

3) Format your list professionally: Take time to format your list so that it looks as professional as your resume and cover letter. Use the same font and ensure there are no typos. Be consistent in how you detail the information for each person. Include your position at the time and the reference’s name, current title, where you worked together and contact info (email and phone number). Also, include a brief description of your professional relationship.

4) Show courtesy to your references: In advance of sharing contact details, tell references that you are interviewing for a new position and have advanced to a reference check.  Ask permission to share their information. Confirm their preferred method of contact — is it email or phone? Do they prefer using a personal or professional email or number? And give them some basic information about the company, the job you are interviewing for, and any details that might make their reference more relevant. Don’t blindside a reference or put them on the spot without adequate notice.

5) Express gratitude: Follow up promptly with a note of thanks when references confirm they are willing to help. Once you are hired, reach out again to share the good news and tell them how much you appreciate their willingness to speak on your behalf. End your email or conversation with an offer to assist in their future endeavors. When asking for support it’s critical to reciprocate it in return.

Planning your next career move requires preparation, research, and practice. Alliance Resource Group is here to help.