The Power of References in Recruitment

What kind of references are your potential future employers looking for? Let’s unfold the secret!

When trying to land a new job, you will go through interviews, technical tests, and other ways to ensure that the information in your resume is accurate. This is important for companies as they want to make sure you’ll succeed in your potential role, and a job is more enjoyable and fulfilling when your skillset matches your job responsibilities. As part of this process, you will go through a reference check. Your recruiter wants to learn what it’s like working with you, as well as get to know you better. It’s important to remember that even if you’ve passed the interviews and technical tests, a bad reference check can change everything.

Here are some tips when choosing your references:

1. Include direct supervisors or direct managers

Including your former direct manager or supervisor is essential for us to get a clear picture of your ability to manage workloads and meet deadlines. Including a supervisor or manager who worked with you once or for a short period could affect your reference check.  Their knowledge of your skills is based on a single interaction. This affects the depth of their answers. In contrast, a direct manager has seen you grow, adapt, and accomplish goals. That’s exactly what your employer want to hear about!

2. A minimum of 2 references

There is no magic number for how many references you need. Depending on the company, having at least 2 references is a must. Two of them should be supervisors or managers and the other ones can be colleagues or project teammates, depending on the requirements for the role you’ve applied for.

3. Let your references know that are going to be using them

Make sure your references are aware of what position you are applying for, when to expect a call, and who might be calling them. Ensure they give details that are relevant to the job you are applying for.  If your reference does not pick up the call after a couple of tries, it might look bad for you as a candidate.

4. Include your most recent references

Recent references are those within 5 to 7 years. References should be relevant to the area that you are applying for. What if you have a good reference that is 10 years old? It depends. References should be from your most recent place(s) of employment. If you have been working for the same company for 5 years, then including a 10-year-old reference would add some diversity to your reference package if it’s from a different company. It’s important to remember to be careful, however, when including current employment references. If they are aware and comfortable with you looking for another job, then it might be safe to do so. Otherwise, you can consider including a manager or team lead that used to work there.

5. Adding other references that are not direct supervisors/managers

If you have already included direct supervisors/ managers and still need one more reference, you can still have a strong set of references. Your recruiter also wants to know what is like working with you, and what your colleagues think about you. You can include indirect managers, project managers, key clients, a senior colleague, or a team lead. Though these should not be your top references, they are still a great option.


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Posted by Diana Macias Cholac