Reference Checks

Here are the five final steps job seekers should follow when selecting references:

  1. If a prospective reference hedges or declines, accept it gracefully. (You really don’t want someone serving as a reference for you who has qualms about doing it.)
  2. Make sure your references know where you’re applying, if possible, so they’ll know that calls are truly from the prospective employer or its agents and, most importantly, so they’ll be expecting the calls!
  3. If you want your references to keep the fact that you’re considering other employment opportunities confidential, ask them directly not to speak to anyone else about it.
  4. Advise your references that they should limit their responses strictly to job performance-related questions. Any question that goes beyond that should not be answered. If a question isn’t about some aspect of job performance, it shouldn’t be asked and certainly shouldn’t be answered!
  5. Above all, make sure you provide current contact information for each reference to insure that it will be as easy as possible for a prospective employer to reach the reference. The information should include the reference’s full name, current job title, company name and address, current office and home telephone or cell phone numbers, and how you are acquainted with each reference – for instance, “Former superior at XYZ Company from 2000 to 2010.” Also, be sure to include where and when it is best to contact each reference. The easier you make it for a prospective employer, or its agents, to reach your references, the better!