Reference Checks 101

Let’s talk about reference checks.

Be honest – there are co-workers, managers, bosses, and other people in your world that could speak on behalf of your behavior at work … right?

As part of BlueWave’s recruiting process, we conduct professional reference checks. We have a set list of questions we’ll ask about your experience & responsibilities, professionalism, punctuality, and work ethic.

Employers WILL request references prior to you starting; we just get a head start and complete them on the front end so our clients don’t have to.

Disclaimer: We’re not here to spam your VP/Director/C-level bosses with phone calls. If we get their voicemail, we will send a follow up email or reach out to you (the candidate) directly, asking you to politely nudge them to give us a call back (And I’m here to tell you, we aren’t ever going to call these references again once we’ve received our responses).

We know there’s a stigma around references, what people do with them, and the general process as a whole. There’s a lot of great insight out there, but we think the basics are key:

Tip #1:

Your professional references should be exactly that – professional.

Please don’t pay your siblings, friends, or parents to speak on your behalf. (You laugh, but we’ve seen it all!)

The ideal reference check is someone who knows they’re being used as your reference and can speak on your behalf in a positive manner.

Think long & hard before you provide references. Ask yourself:

  • Was I on time and professional while working with this person?
  • Have I worked with this person long enough to be able to speak extensively about me and my skills?
  • Will this reference positively influence my chances of getting this new job?

If yes, you have a great reference! If no, perhaps chose someone else…

Tip #2:

When presenting your references, provide some context:

  • Name
  • Phone Number (please make sure it’s current)
  • Email (again, an email that is valid) – we can use this if we hit a voicemail box
  • The name of the company where you worked together at
  • The person’s title while working together

It’s a good practice to update your references as your career progresses. Keep a simple Word document that you can continuously change as needed and is readily available (yes, you have permission to erase “references available upon request” from the bottom of your resume). It’s wonderful that you’ve stayed in touch with your boss from 15 years ago, but they can’t speak on your behalf about your current technical and personal skills.

If your current employer doesn’t know you’re applying/interviewing, please don’t provide them as references. Recruiters do not want to yell “Surprise! Your employee is quitting!” It may seem obvious but be conscious of this when you’re considering who you write down. If someone from your current company is willing to be a reference, advise them to be discrete and even suggest stepping out of the office for the conversation.

Now, if you don’t have three people who come to mind or perhaps you’re just starting out in your career, think outside the box. Consider past internships, volunteer work, professors/teachers, coaches, etc. that can speak on your character and personality traits. These are still very essential to the hiring process.

As you start your professional career, keep references in mind! Stay professional, punctual, and you’ll be left with plenty of people willing to vouch for you!

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