We’re often listed as references for former interns or employees and always want to help the people who’ve worked well for us. But sometimes, we’re less able to do that because the reference call catches us by surprise.
Make sure to tell your references that you’re applying for jobs and have listed them as a reference to ensure you’re fresh in their minds when they get a call asking about you. Even better: Tell them what kinds of jobs you’re applying to, so they can highlight the skills you’ll need to get the job (it’s not a bad idea to send a copy of your current resume over as well).
Plus, you never know who your references know at the companies you’re applying to -- a quick reminder may get them to reach out on their own. We’ve hired interns because we’ve received glowing recommendations from their references before we even had a chance to call, and we've been hired because our references called in for us. A pre-emptive recommendation shows that the job candidate is so good, a busy person will go out on a limb for them.
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan