Don’t Let Reference Checks Derail Your Job Search

You thought that job was in the bag? Well, someone else got it. One reason people lose jobs at the finish line is because of reference checks. Don’t let this happen to you! 

What happened? 

You’ll probably never know for sure, but your reference check may have done you in. How can you keep that from happening?

The Obvious

I start with the obvious because during the stress of job hunt, people often do careless and irrational things. Are you sure your references have a high opinion of you? 

In an extreme example, a woman used a former supervisor as a reference--AFTER she had walked out without giving the supervisor even an hour's notice. Guess who got a bad reference.

OK, you’re not clueless. But read on.

Articulate and Upbeat?

Are the people you’ve listed as references articulate and upbeat? Will they kill you with faint praise--not because of who you are, but because of the way they communicate?

Have you prepped your references?

That boss you worked for three years ago may think you walk on water, but how prepared is she to talk about you? Can she instantly articulate the great things you did? Maybe. But don’t count on it. 

High Achievers--Beware

This is especially problematic for high achievers. The boss trusted you and wasn’t watching you closely. Your area was always in top shape, so he paid attention to other areas that needed fixing. He may be unaware of all you did. Again, be sure that you prep your boss in advance. Write out some talking points. Make sure your boss understands not only WHAT you did, but the IMPACT you had.

Is their contact information up to date?

Background checkers work on fast schedules and may reject your application as incomplete if they encounter problems. Be sure you’re not sending a prospective employer down a blind alley. 

  • Are your references still alive and in good health? 
  • Are you sure you have current phone numbers for your references?
  • Is the phone number a cell? An office number?
  • What’s the BEST number and time of day to reach them?
  • Will your reference be on vacation when they call the office?
  • Has your former employer moved? Gone out of business? 

What a shame to lose a job because the reference checker finds the phone number you gave has been disconnected. Or worse, the number has been reassigned to a stranger who says, “A reference check for who? I never heard of him!”

Be sure that the reference check is a breeze for the prospective employer. Don't risk losing the job at the finish line.

Want to discuss your job search/career plans? Here’s a link to my calendar:

Steve Frederick

Our coaching helps people from across America to earn more money –AND get benefits and perks...

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