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How to Make Sure Reference Checks won't Eliminate You

Argggh!! You know that job you thought was in the bag? Well, someone else got it.

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 that's the way they are?

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. He knew you’re a star, so he paid attention to things that need fixing. He may be unaware of all you did. 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.


Handling references poorly is just one way to self-sabotage. Let's talk BEFORE you sabotage your job search. Call for a no-obligation conversation.

Is their contact information up to date?
Background checkers work on fast schedules and may reject your application as incomplete if they encounter problems.
  • Are you sure you have current phone numbers for your references? 
  • Is the phone number a cell? An office number? A home phone? 
  • What’s the BEST number and time of day to reach them?
Don't risk losing the job!
What a shame to lose a job because the person checking your references calls someone who says, “A reference check for who? I never heard of him!”

♦ What if they call the office number while your reference is on vacation?
♦ ♦ Has your former employer moved? Gone out of business? Make sure you’re not sending the prospective employer down a blind alley.

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


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