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What about References?

Seeking references as a returner can feel daunting, especially if you've been in "Mom-mode," focusing on everything but maintaining your professional network. We get it. Plus, it may seem hard to predict when you'll need a reference.

Many women relocate for their spouse's job promotion and become the "trailing spouse," making it challenging to stay connected with former colleagues. Efforts to keep in touch may dwindle on both sides as there is less connection when projects, clients, and team members change.

While we at Untapped Potential advocate for nurturing professional contacts, we acknowledge the difficulty when balancing the demands of motherhood. But eventually, the time will come when you'll need those references. Starting early in acquiring them will make it easier to obtain strong endorsements later.

One approach, we have seen Candidates use with success is to leverage Untapped Potential. Simply inform the target reference provider about your participation in Untapped Potential, a social enterprise aiding #womenreturners in achieving their professional goals. Part of this journey involves soliciting feedback from past associates.

You could ask, "Could you provide feedback on my strengths from our collaboration on the ABC Project at ACME Enterprise?"

By sharing your goal to regain your professional standing and making a simple request, two positive outcomes typically follow:

  1. They're more likely to fulfill your straightforward request.

  2. They become part of your support team, helping you reach your full potential.

Indeed, you have a support team, and we at Untapped Potential are here to help you leverage it. Remember, you don't have to #returntowork alone!

Let's navigate this together.

You may push back thinking, "They are not going to remember me!" or "Now they are a VP, they are too busy to think of my prior work!"

The beauty of this method is you are able to remind them right at that point in time an example of how you added value to their business objectives. For example, you might say, "Recall it was during that very busy time, and I was the one that thought of leveraging a Partner to Market the New Product for us? I crafted the relationship and negotiated the deal with XYZ Remarketing".

Once you have reconnected you have done the hard work. They can send you an email with their feedback, but they will have it handy for future use when you really need it.

For our Candidates seeking to return following a gap for caregiving, we prep our Business Clients to understand that a viable reference can be a member of the community. You can consider your work on a PTO Committee, a Board for a Sports or Other Community and even a neighbor or fellow parent that you have shared parenting duties in a responsible manner. The Principal, Superintendent of Schools, PTO President should e viewed as your superior and a fellow parent can be viewed as a colleague. Of course, they will desire at least one industry aligned reference.

When you have gotten to a point in our Interview Process when your references are required, we have an email you can forward to them with the official reference. You should definitely ca them in advance, share the high points of the role you are being considered for and then clearly list the 3 main reasons your background is a fit for this role. They will comment your character and experience. But the real goal is for those comments to relate to the characteristics required for success in the role.

If there is any doubt that a reference you select may not be able to meet your goal of confirming your character and experience for the role, Abbey Kohut, of Absolutely Abbey, an experienced recruiter recommends: It is a 3rd party services that checks your provided references and then gives you the report that an employer sees.

It may seem like a lot of work to generate a reference but that final step may be the key to your relaunch. You have already done so many of the steps to get to this point, don't let the lack of current, positive and well-prepared references be a limiting factor.


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