Background Checks

This second part of the review of the steps in the reference selection process should be combined with Part 1.  It could be the most useful tool job seekers have.  The information contained herein is based on our 35+ years of experience checking references!

  • If a prospective reference agrees to serve, make very sure that each reference understands exactly what you’re asking them to do—that you don’t want them overstate or understate how well you did your job, just to answer each question as honestly as possible.
  • If a prospective reference hedges or declines, accept it gracefully and move on.  (You really don’t what someone serving as a reference for you who has any qualms about it.)
  • Make sure your references know where you’re applying so they’ll be able to make sure that calls are truly from a prospective employer or its agents and, most importantly, so they’ll be expecting calls!
  • If you want your references to keep the fact that you’re considering other employment opportunities confidential, ask them directly and politely not to tell anyone else about it.
  • Advise your references that they should limit their responses to strictly job-performance related questions.  Any questions that go beyond job performance should not be answered.  If the question isn’t about job performance, it shouldn’t be asked; and if it is asked, it shouldn’t be answered.
  • Above all, make sure you provide all the current contact information for each reference to make sure it’s easy for the prospective employer to reach them!  The information should include each reference’s full name, job title, company name and address, current office, cell and home telephone numbers, and how you are/were acquainted with each other.  For example: “Former Manager at XYZ Company from 2005 to 2010.”  The easier you can make it for a prospective employer to reach your references, the better!