Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Importance of References by Tom Hogan

Are Your References Killing Your Chances for Employment?


Presented by Tom Hogan Level 1 Resources
We provide Accounting and Finance talent to Companies throughout CT, Westchester County and NYC area


Reference checks can confirm or deny the value of a job seeker to a potential employer. They can be the difference-maker in employment.

A poor reference can literally cost you thousands of dollars of lost income.

1) Unless someone can speak directly about your professional qualifications and character, do not use them as a reference. This means that your neighbor, hair stylist, lawyer or high school sweetheart don't count. Unless you've worked with them, they're not a reference.

2) Not every potential employer limits their reference screening to former supervisors. We recommend that, in addition to three former direct supervisors, you also have two peers and, for managers, two subordinates ready as references.

3) Never use a person as a reference without their knowledge and consent.

4) Never use someone that can't (or won't) speak knowledgably and enthusiastically about you.

5) Someone who will only verify employment should never be used as a reference. Also, While many companies have policies that dictate that they can only discuss a former employee’s title, dates of employment, and eligibility for rehire, people break those rules every day, Jeffrey Shane, vice president of Allison & Taylor Inc., a professional reference-check and employment-verification company says,“Over 50 percent of Allison & Taylor’s job seeker clients receive a bad reference, despite the strict policies their previous employers have in place.”

6) Choose your references with care. After doing everything right to get this far, you don't want to sabotage your efforts by hastily picking any 3 names.

7) Job seekers make a fatal tactical error by failing to prep their references or assuming that they’ll be able to sweep negative opinions of their work history under the carpet.

Don't assume that your references know what you wrote on your resume or spoke about during your interview!

Make sure your references know what you’ve been up to, and provide them with your latest resume.

In addition, counsel your references to ensure you both agree on what will be said if someone calls.

Get agreement on key achievements and resume points.

Make sure you review a few questions your references might want to know.

Focus on some of the following topics with your references so you agree: - start and end dates of employment - the reason for leaving - salary - positional responsibilities and achievements - work ethic - communication skills - team focus - promotions - willingness to re-hire - general strengths and weaknesses

8) The impression a reference leaves will be reflected upon you. Be sure that your references understand how important this is. Be sure they will be available when called upon. If your reference travels frequently or is really busy, you need to communicate that fact with your potential employer and coordinate with your reference. Ask your reference how they would like to be contacted – at home, by cell or by e-mail - and when.

Also, be sure you have their most current contact information.


Providing an old email address or cell number makes you look bad. Not having a reference call returned is a problem you want to avoid. It shows they may not care enough to respond quickly or give you high marks. Silence can be deadly here.

9) Never underestimate the importance of reference checks!



If you would like to reach Tom Hogan or follow him on Twitter, you can do so:

Email: tomhogan@level1resources.com.
Web: www.level1resources.com
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/tjhogan
Twitter: http://twitter.com/level1resources

2 comments:

Nathan L. said...

It was great how Hogan reminded us that it is important to prepare and roll play with our references before they are contacted. That was very valuable.

It was also great how Hogan suggested providing a resume to each of ones' references. I hadn't thought about that before. Such a great idea!

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