Do employers actually call references? - NewBalancejobs
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Do employers actually call references?

Do employers actually call references? Basically, yes.  While it is true that not 100% of HR departments will contact your references during their pre-employment screening, many do.

  If you are about to start looking for a job, you should expect to check your references.  References you provide to employers about your employment history, qualifications, and skills qualifying you for the job may be contacted. Additionally, many organizations check with past employers for information about your work history and your ability to perform on the job.

Do employers actually call references?

  Yes, employers are already contacting the references which is why it is important to contact each of your references so that you have the correct contact information for them (numbers may have changed).  You also want to make sure they are ready to be your reference now, even if they have done so in the past.

  And if you feel any hesitation or have a feeling that they may not give you a good reference after all, it is best to leave them off the list.  Since you are collecting the names, you decide who will do the best work for you.

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  Gone are the days when employers ignored references or didn’t think they were important.  According to a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey, 92% of employers take background checks, usually during a pre-employment check (87%).  Some even repeat checks on an annual basis (15%) or when an employee is promoted (10%).

  Information routinely provided to auditors of reference by surveyed employers includes dates of employment, eligibility for re-employment, salary history, and employability.

  Is it a good sign that the company is running a reference check?

  There are some instances in which companies may check references.  Reference checks are always done to assist an employer with their hiring decisions, whether that’s to make sure the person they hire has the skills and experience they claim to have or whether they want more information about the candidate.

  Generally, a reference check is carried out at the end of the interview process.  If a job applicant interviews but is not offered a flyer, the employer may request a reference check to make a decision among the top candidates.  This can be taken as a good sign, but don’t pop the champ now – nothing is sealed until the contract is signed.

  Often a reference check takes place after a job has been demonstrated.  It is common for a job offer to be subject to satisfactory references.  This usually means that the employer has selected the candidate for the job and is conducting a reference check as a last resort due diligence procedure to ensure that the candidate has the relevant skills, experience, and education for the role.  Alternatively, it may mean that they are using reference checking to find out more information to prepare the candidate for success in their new role.

  What Recruiters Really Do With Your References

  1. Recruiters ask for references to judge your skills.

 Reference checks give recruiters the opportunity to speak with your former manager or co-workers in order to learn more about your work history, performance, and professionalism.  How do they do that?  Jenny Voss, a Portland, Oregon career and career strategy expert, explained that when doing a reference check, her agency uses a checklist asking the referee to rank each specific skill and strength they call out, with an explanation for their rating.

  • Recruiters ask for references to verify what you actually told them

  When a recruiter calls a reference, they aren’t just looking to hear good things about you.  Instead, they go deeper into their research to determine whether the way in which you presented yourself aligns with your employer’s previous evaluation of your performance.  In other words, were you lying to them?

  Making a reference call also provides an opportunity for recruiters to ask questions about a red flag or anxiety that arose during the hiring process.

ALSO READ: How to find your employment history

  If your reference gives you a bad recommendation, it may affect your chances, which is why Foss always advises you to reach out to your professional references before a potential employer contacts them.

  • Recruiters ask your references professional questions about you

  Who are you including for an important reference?  Recruiters want to know the reference’s relationship to the candidate to gauge the quality of the data they provide.  For this reason it is recommended that you provide professional references that worked with you or manage you directly as an employee as this helps recruiters understand the nature of the work with you.

  If you provide this type of reference, Smith says recruiters will ask the following types of questions: How can this person best be managed?  In what areas will he need additional training or support?  How well do you see this person grow professionally?

  Recruiters just want to know more about you and make sure they really think you are the right person for the company before making an offer.

  Remember this: When a recruiting company makes contact with your references it is always a good sign – so you can breathe easily.  Voss says the reference check usually means the hiring manager is nearly ready to expand an offer for a candidate, and they want one final confirmation that you are a good fit on their team.


Advice:  If you ask a reference to say good things about you, it helps to show them a great resume as a way to point out some potential talking points.  Could you use some help with that?  Get a free resume evaluation today from the experts at Monster’s Resume Writing Service.  You’ll get detailed feedback within two business days, including reviewing the look and feel of your resume, and predicting an employee’s first impression.  Monster experts can show you how to highlight your skills and accomplishments, which you can then refer to when requesting a reference to confirm your amazement.