If you think employers don’t check your references, or take them seriously, then think again!
You can nearly guarantee that recruiters or employers will check at least two or three of the references that you supply, and that the quality of your reference selection, preparation, and presentation will be a direct reflection of how ‘on-the-ball’ you really are.
Reference checks have increased in importance over the last few years, as organizations are putting every effort into making sure they select the right talent. If your recruiter or employer has narrowed the selection down to a few potential candidates, it may be that the reference check will become the deciding factor!
So don’t kill a good opportunity! Follow these three tips when providing references:
1) Choose The Right People
Keep it professional – choose people who have supervised or managed you in some capacity. Ideally someone you reported to directly. Hopefully you will have made some effort to keep in touch with these people, even if just through a LinkedIn connection.
Avoid choosing colleagues or friends from work, as the recruiter or employer will be left wondering why you chose your lunch buddy instead of your superior. If you are new to the workforce, choose professors who may have been thesis supervisors etc., or placement/internship supervisors.
2) Don’t Let Your References be Cold-Called
One of the worst mistakes that you can make is neglecting to ask your referees for permission to be listed, or forgetting to give your referees a heads-up that someone from ‘company X’ may be calling them with respect to a reference for ‘job Y’.
Not only will the recruiter or employer be aware that you lacked the courtesy to communicate with your referees, but your referees will also be annoyed that they were cold-called. They will not have had the time to prepare their thoughts about you or your fit for the role in question, so it is unlikely that your work capabilities and accomplishments will be highlighted in the midst of the general confusion.
If you really want to be ahead of the game, send your referees a copy of your latest CV, let them know the exact position you are being interviewed for, and communicate to them what skills, abilities, and accomplishments you are hoping they can highlight.
3) Format Your List Professionally – Don’t be Sloppy
Once you select and notify your referees, list them using an organized and consistent format. Do not wait for your recruiter or employer to chase you for information, you will just end up looking lazy. Provide all of the following information:
- First and last name of referee
- Relationship to the referee (including the name of the company or school at which you worked together)
- Dates of employment at the company - Although this information should be listed in your CV, it doesn’t hurt to re-list the dates here.
- Contact information – phone number and email address - It is your responsibility to ask your referee which number they prefer to be contacted on. Their direct dial at work? Their mobile? Can you list both? You also need to ask if you can list their email address, which is often useful to your recruiteror employer as a back-up to making phone calls.
So there you have it, three tips to follow when selecting and providing your references to our recruiters and employers. Remember, having inappropriate or confused referees, or referees who are significantly delayed in their responses to your recruiter or employer, are nearly as bad as receiving a negative reference. Ultimately, your referee only has a few minutes to toot your horn. So why not make it as easy as possible for everyone involved?