Reference checks are a common part of the job hiring process. Whether written or verbal, they help to paint a picture of you as an employee and can make or break your chances of landing the role you’re after. We chat to our Talent Agent Jelena Lazic to find out just how important references are and how to make the most out of yours.
How important are referees to a potential employer?
References are important as they provide backing and support to everything you have discussed in the interview process. They are the people that have worked alongside you or managed you, so having them affirm what you’ve said gives your future employers peace of mind in the hiring process. They can also highlight areas of expertise that you may not have vocalised in your interviews.
Referees also provide valuable insight into how you like to be managed, what you’re like with other team members, what culture you thrive in and potential areas of improvement.
Who should you choose to be your referee/s?
Choose someone you trust and who you’ve worked with directly, and be sure to ask them first. Ideally your referees will be a manager or senior colleague, someone you have reported into. They are more likely to speak confidently about your skill set, personality traits, strengths and areas of improvement.
A lot of talent may not feel comfortable in asking management for a reference if they are still working for them, so a senior colleague who is across a lot of the work you’re producing is the next best option, or a client you’ve worked for.
It’s important to leave on good terms with your referees as it can hinder future job applications if it’s not complimentary, or doesn’t align with what you’ve previously stated.
How do you make sure you’re on good terms with your references?
Firstly, ask permission to list this person as a reference and make sure they are comfortable doing so. Never talk poorly about former colleagues or companies as this doesn’t look good in the interview process and can also get back to people.
Be positive about your past experiences, be transparent as to why you’re leaving and give them the notice and respect they deserve, even after resigning.
What can you do if you get a bad reference?
This can be tricky if you are applying directly, as you will only be made aware if the hiring manager tells you. If this happens, picking up the phone and calling your referee is a good idea. There may be areas of improvement you weren’t aware of and can learn from. A call can ‘clear the air’, and with most industries being quite small it’s good to address any differences straight away and move forward with mutual respect.
As a recruiter, if a reference is not favourable we will flag it with you and recommend using another referee.
What happens if someone lists a fake referee – someone they say managed them but didn’t?
At Agency Iceberg, we email our reference checks to the referee with a series of questions to ensure the person giving the reference is who they say they are. The referee is also made aware that this is a legally binding document.
For anyone doing verbal references, a good way to check for validity is by contacting the company (HR, management) and confirming that the details of the referee matches up (title, name etc). We don’t progress an applicant who has listed false references.
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