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References: Are Written or Verbal Better?

Have you ever wondered if it carries more weight to have a written reference letter, or if it makes a better impression to have your reference speak directly to the hiring manager on the phone?

The answer is: both.

Written references and verbal references serve different purposes in your job search and your interview, and so you need both types.

The written reference letter is often used as a “hook” to get the attention of the hiring manager. It’s good enough to get an interview, but often not quite enough to cement the offer.

The verbal reference, in the form of the phone call, is preferred post-interview. Interviewers want to actually talk to the hiring manager and hear how fantastic you were and how they wish they could hire you again (or keep you).

If you’re on your game, you will incorporate both types as you need them in the interview process. One candidate had his reference send a note to the hiring manager within 10 minutes of the interview end. It said something along the lines of, “Hey, Joe is amazing. Here’s what he did on my team… You really ought to put him on your team.” Needless to say, that was pretty impressive to the hiring manager, and Joe got the job.

Never underestimate how powerful references are as a part of your interview process. If you’ve gotten as far as the interview, they’re very interested in you, and it could easily be the recommendation of someone else that pushes them over the edge to making you the offer.

Peggy McKee has over 15 years of experience in sales, sales management, sales recruiting, and career coaching. Her website, Career Confidential ( ) is packed with job-landing tips and advice as well as the practical, powerful, innovative tools every job seeker needs to be successful.

For assistance putting together an offer-winning reference sheet call us today 1.800.991.5187.


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Jessica Holbrook Hernandez

A nationally recognized resume expert, Jessica Holbrook Hernandez is President/CEO of Great Resumes Fast and a former human resources manager and recruiter. Leveraging more than ten years’ experience directing hiring practices for Fortune 500 companies, Jessica's innovative and brand-driven resume development strategies have secured a 99.6% interview-winning success rate for her clients. As a global resume authority and trusted media source, Jessica has been featured and quoted numerous times throughout, The Chicago Tribune,, Local Job Network Radio, International Business Times, and more.
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