In order to obtain your desired job in the field of criminal justice, you need to prepare your references. Most employers will want to talk to some of the individuals with whom you have worked or studied in the past, and you should try to make sure these people will describe you in a positive light. Unfortunately, there’s no way for you to know exactly how a particular individual will make you look, but there are a few things you can do to make sure that your references will help rather than hurt you.

      • First, choose professionals with whom you had a good relationship in the past. This is extremely important because some individuals may accidently, or in some cases even deliberately, sabotage your job search efforts if they don’t like you. On the other hand, you should make sure that your references are not childhood friends, family members, or other individuals with an obvious obligation to make you look good.
    • Next, you should choose individuals you have known for more than a year—preferably longer. Your employer wants to talk to people who can say honestly that they know you. In fact, one of the first questions many employers will ask your reference is how long have they have known you. You need to make sure your reference can provide an honest answer that will make it look like they know who you are and that they have worked with you for a while.
    • Third, ask your references if you can use them as references, and ask them what they will say if someone asks them about you. This is important because a reference who is trying to help you accidently may sabotage your job search efforts if they are caught off guard or don’t know what to say. In fact, you may find that your references are planning to tell your potential employer something that seems positive in your previous career, but isn’t really all that positive in your potential career.
    • Fourth, keep your references in the loop as much as possible. Making you look good is more difficult for a reference if he or she can’t tell your potential employer what you’re doing now. As a result, you should stay in touch with your references, give them a copy of your résumé every time you start looking for a new job, tell them that they may be getting a call from a potential employer, and thank them after you get a job.