Most people think of references as a list of three people you hand over to a prospective employer after the company has decided it wants to hire you. But a more proactive and strategic reference can help you long before an offer is made, especially if you might need help getting in the door for an interview.
The power reference (PR) is someone who can make a difference. In rare cases, it will be a star, like a well-known general counsel or, for example, a U.S. Senator. Fame is not a pre-requisite, however. The essential ingredient to a power reference is the relationship between the PR and the hiring decision-maker who receives the PR’s call. The relationship between you and the PR does not need to be nearly as strong or in-depth as you think.