Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Are References Even Necessary in Today's Job Market?

I must admit, before I started this recent interview process I would have answered this question differently. I know many companies are very careful about what they will and will not say in a reference check, so my first inclination would have been to say that references were quickly becoming a thing of the past.

However, as I conducted research I found that many companies are still using the reference check process as a screening tool. Most recently, I found a study that was published by CareerBuilder. In this study, based on a survey of almost 2,500 hiring managers and HR professionals as well as almost 4,000 job seekers, I found some interesting statistics:

  • 80% of employers said they do contact a candidate's references and 16% of them contact references before they even call the candidate for the first interview
  • 69% of the hiring decision makers said they have changed their mind about a candidate based on what they learned in the reference check
  • Of these wishy-washy hiring managers, 47% changed their mind in a negative way and 23% felt more favorably after talking to the candidate's references
  • Almost 30% of employers reported finding a falsified reference on an application
  • 15% of candidates admitted that they did not talk to their references to ask their permission or even inform them they listed them as a reference
So what have we learned from this study?
  • References do matter and employers are still checking them. In fact, my references were requested to provide written answers to a series of four questions today.
  • References can sway the opinion of a hiring manager both positively and negatively. Therefore, we should select "coachable" references that you can talk with regarding the upcoming reference call.
  • Never lie on an application. They may not catch you right away, but there is always a chance the truth will come out at some point - and then it is too late.
  • Always ask your references for permission - BEFORE you list them as a reference. Also, always give them fair warning of who might be calling and what they will be asking about.

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