Reference Sheets

According to a 2010 Society for Human Resource Management survey, 76% of the organisations they asked conduct reference checks on job candidates.

Are you one of the many job seekers who don’t know who should be listed as a reference? Do you know how to prepare your references to help you secure the job? Are you sure that all of your referees are on your side? Could one of them be unintentionally, or even intentionally, sabotaging your job offers?

In the following newsletters, we will cover what references are, how to select referees, how to prepare them to help you secure the job, and which myths should you ignore.

What are references?

Your CV will get you the interview, your skills and experience coupled with your great personality will get you the job offer, but it is your referees who will secure the job. The interviewer might be impressed with you, but they will want to confirm their decision to hire you with opinions of the people who have first-hand knowledge of your work ethic, character, skills, and experience.

Reference checks are necessary for both job seekers and employers. References are a chance for employers to add to the information they learned from your CV and in the interview. Information that they find out from your references will either confirm their desire to hire you or make the decision not to extend the job offer. A great reference will help the hiring manager feel good about their decision to hire you.

The definition of “reference” includes two important functions in a job search. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a reference is “a person to whom inquiries as to character or ability can be made.” A reference is also defined as “a statement of the qualifications of a person seeking employment or appointment, given by someone familiar with the person.”

Reference checks are often part of a comprehensive employment screening programme, which can also include verification of employment eligibility as it relates to immigration status, credit checks, and background checks.

Job seekers applying for positions with access to confidential information (related to other employees or the company’s clients) were most likely to be subject to reference checks, as were candidates for financial positions, information technology jobs and customer-facing positions.

Some companies will check your references and some won’t. You should prepare your references for the companies that do (as well as for the ones that ask for your references, but never use them).