Typically, employers check references late in the application process, making it one of the close-to-final steps before you find out if you got the job. If you’ve planned well, you have a reference list ready to share with the potential employer. And, you are also prepared to give your references a heads-up that someone will be reaching out.

That shouldn’t be your last point of contact with your reference, however.

A relationship that begins and ends with you asking for a favor is unlikely to flourish. Instead, aim to maintain an active, ongoing relationship with your references, even after they’ve written letters, filled out forms, or spoken on the phone in support of your candidacy.

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