Reference Checks

What if the candidate for employment has worked at only one place for an extended period of time? Suppose you, as the prospective employer, want to talk to at least one reference from the candidate’s current place of employment, but the candidate doesn’t want to run the risk that his employer will find out that he’s looking for other job opportunities?

Part of the same strategy noted in a previous blog still applies. That is, tell the candidate to identify people with whom he has worked who have retired, taken other jobs, or moved to other jobs within the company – people who not only can be trusted to keep the job search confidential, but also will agree to serve as references.

If the candidate’s best references are still with the current employer, however, then trust becomes the central issue. It’s up to the candidate to come up with references willing to talk confidentially from among those with whom he’s currently working. Here’s a suggestion that prospective employers can offer: The easiest way to enlist references is away from the workplace, over lunch, or after work some evening. If they are loyal friends who can be trusted – and only the candidate can be the judge of that – they won’t violate a request for confidentiality. Another point: suitable references are likely to feel more comfortable discussing things like job performance at home instead of in the workplace. Frequently, references will be glad to chat with a prospective employer, or its agents, during the evening or on a weekend.

Finally, it’s important to suggest to the candidate that it might be helpful to tell his references that he’s not asking them to speak on behalf of the company they both work for, but only to offer honestly held opinions or documented facts about him – nothing more.