Tom Sweeney

It's a coming of age tale….

References… Are they even used??

Posted by sweens on January 19, 2009

Many people have always asked me if references are even checked when I ask for them.  And in most cases I always do.  References are a way for someone to verify what you’ve branded yourself as – not that you aren’t being trusted – but they can also give you a useful insight into the person’s work habits or tendencies.  Something that isn’t easy to draw out during an interview.


As a guideline I would suggest you ask your client who they would like the references to come from.  Normally I would say 3 supervisory references but sometimes having someone who worked for you providing a reference can be a unique view on someones’ leadership/management skills. 



If you can then you certainly should.  When references are being asked for, prior to an offer, it isn’t uncommon to hold out on a reference from your most recent employer.  A recruiter or company should be sensitive to someone who doesn’t want to give a reference from their current employer early within the process.  If the opportunity doesn’t work out you can run the risk of ruining your candidates work environment by contacting their manager.




Something I can’t comment on directly as I have never done it – however I too have heard of this happening.  You should be careful to protect your references from the potential of being used for more then just a reference.  Don’t be shy to inform your recruiter that you and your reference are not comfortable being contacted to generate leads or other candidates.



I completed a reference check last week and when I asked the person on the phone if they would consider working with my candidate again their response was a unique one and one I wish to share with you for your use.  This person explained to me that on a training assignment they learned instead of asking your reference if they would work with your candidate again, you should ask them if they would consider working for your candidate.


I thought that was a great idea and it certainly would speak volumes as to how the reference truly perceived your candidate.  Something to keep in mind for future reference checks….

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