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Before a recent interview, I asked a few former colleagues if they would be willing to be a reference for me. The interviewer hadn't requested me to bring them, but I thought it would be good to be prepared. The interview went well, and I was never asked for references so I did not offer them.

My question is, should I follow up with my references to let them know how the interview went, and tell them that I did not end up sharing their information? Also, is it appropriate to ask if they are willing to continue being references indefinitely until I complete my job search?

  • A wise man once told me "right now, I could get the janitor that job. But after the janitor, nobody." Recognize that the person providing the reference shows faith in you - and that you have a responsibility not to let them down. Do tell them / thank them when you finally get your job - and then prove to everyone that they were right to hire you. That's how everybody wins. – Floris Sep 10 '14 at 22:10
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Reusing references

As others have said when you ask me to be your reference I'll be a reference for other opportunities than the immediate one unless I specifically say otherwise.

You can continue to use a person as a reference until such time they are no longer relevant or they explicitly ask you not to. You do not need to ask again unless you feel a specific case might make them uncomfortable. (IE let's say they HATE what Company X has done to the gaming market... and you're applying to Company X)

Notifying your reference

It's considered respectful to let your reference know in advance anytime you expect someone might call them. Now, there is some caveats here.

If you are pursuing several jobs you should probably call the reference just once and let them know they might get a call or two, and what sort of job you're pursuing. (That way they aren't caught by surprise and can do what they are prepared generally speaking)

If you are pursuing a specific job you should call your reference and give them what details might help them help you. If the company you're pursuing is hiring you leading a project let your reference know you'll be expected to lead a project. Then your reference can focus their details on your management, leadership skills, and attention to details.

Updating your references

References probably don't want you to constantly let them know the out come of every little job pursuit. (Unless your friends who like to talk about that sort of thing) That said, it's to wait until you land a job or stop looking than contact them only once to thank them.

Don't abuse references

Reference abuse is mostly when you know in advance you're going to do something your reference wouldn't be happy about. Job flipping, needless name dropping, ect. Your reference is someone helping you out, if you act unprofessionally it can make them look bad for referring you. This is one of the few ways to get a reference to demand you stop using them.

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Customary practice with respect to references is "ask once, get many times" All your references understand that they may be asked many times - I'd be supremely annoyed with you if you kept repeating the request for me to be your reference - it would sound like some form of nagging to me. Ask your references once, and have faith that they'll come through for you time and again. Unless, the they get run over by the provierbial bus, that is :)

And no. You don't need to tell your references how well your interviews went - interviews usually go well - unless you also want to tell your references that you didn't get the job, too. Your references have other things going on in their professional lives and you don't want to distract them with the latest interview dramas. Considering that you are not the only one they are giving references to, less communication is definitely more.

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This may vary from culture to culture, but my experience in the US is that you generally only need to talk to your references in two scenarios:

  1. When you first ask them to be a reference
  2. Give them a heads up if you happen to know that a company will actually be calling them

When I am asked to be a reference, I assume that I will be used as a reference many times and not just once.

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