Are Your References Ruining Your Chances?

Dear J.T. & Dale: Twice I was the final candidate for a new job, contingent upon employment and reference checks. The end result was no job offer. How can I keep from being torpedoed? — Bart

J.T.: Whenever job candidates are concerned about what former employers are saying about their work history, I tell them to have a family member or friend call HR and inquire about them as an employee.

Dale: Odds are, the company will only verify dates of employment, and thus you can eliminate the official HR response from your list of worries. That still leaves your list of references. I’m sure that when you created your list, you got the permission of those you listed; however, that’s not enough. Anytime you’re close to an offer, you should let each of them know he or she might be getting a call, and let him or her know what you think your prospective employer is looking to hear. If you sense any hesitation from a reference, then you know you should edit that person off your list. If they are enthusiastic, calling them is still valuable because they won’t be caught off-guard and are more likely to say just the right thing.

5 Responses

  1. Marsha Keeffer Says:

    It’s vital to help references help you. And often, when I’ve been on the hiring side checking references, it’s been impossible to reach the person who should be the candidate’s best advocate. Yes, be direct and ask people what they’d say if they were asked for a reference - don’t select someone who’s just lukewarm about you to be your champion.

  2. Hayli @ Rise Smart Says:

    Genius advice J.T.! Undercover operator! I agree with Dale that a preceding phone call is in order to ask permission and give a heads-up. However, that conversation should also include inquiry into that person’s life and work. Express genuine interest in their well-being (can’t fake this), as opposed to simply calling up out of the blue to ask a favor. Perhaps even consider buying them lunch or coffee to catch up on old times, if appropriate.

  3. Allison & Taylor Says:

    Hi- some good advice- it’s good to have your references checked if you think someone may be sabotaging your job search. However, be cautious in using family or friends to check references- they could inadvertently tip someone off that it’s you (the employee)checking references. (Most people would be hesitant to provide any information after discovering this.)

    Also, while many people beleive companies can provide only dates and title, in a large percentage of cases, this isn’t true. And even if it is company policy, individuals often deviate and provide information that the company would not approve of.

    Just FYI, there are companies that provide a reference checking service, and in our circumstance, all reports provided are legally admissable, meaning that if your reference is maligning you, you can use the information in a legal context.

    Something to think about…
    Allison & Taylor, Inc.

  4. Bill Says:

    I have come to learn there are certain way’s of asking the questions that companies are using to sidestep the actual laws. “Would you re-hire this person?” no, usually tells the whole story but if the canned answer is policy, they’ll follow with Can you tell me if this termination was voluntary? if again the answer is no you’re not getting the job.

  5. herbert Says:

    medically@scowled.marseilles” rel=”nofollow” onclick=”javascript:pageTracker._trackPageview (’/outbound/’);”>.…

    thank you!!…

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