Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Looking for a New Job? - Make Sure to Check Your Own References

You’ve put your resume out there and you received the phone call.  Now you find that you’ve nailed the interviews. The prospective employer is asking you for your references and you gladly comply.  What they may not divulge is that they may also be doing a background check, perhaps a credit check, and maybe even scouring the internet for what they can learn about your online persona. Not a problem, right? Well, hopefully not. Our advice? Do your own reference checks first, before you do anything else.  You might want to go as far as to check your credit score, do a background check on yourself, as well as check yourself out online.

Also, make sure your personal and professional references know you are using them as a reference and make sure you have their permission.  Confer with them about what they will say about you and your qualifications, etc.  If even one of your references says something even a bit sketchy or hesitates because they are caught off guard by a prospective employer, it can shut the whole process down as quickly as it began. If you have a bad reputation with a Builder, for example, it can knock you out of the game. No matter how stellar your professional history appears on paper or how well you interview, poor or ‘iffy’ references can kill a deal.  It is not unheard of for a candidate who thought someone had agreed to be their reference, who isn’t aware you had listed them to say to a prospective employer, “Are you sure they gave you my name?”  If your references aren’t current, some older references might even say, “Who? I don’t recall that person’s name.”  Even worse is the comment from a past employer, “Let me get the legal file to see what I am allowed to say!” Some personal references you’ve lost touch with may not even respond to a reference inquiry if they are called or emailed, leaving the question of ‘why not’ in the reference checkers mind. 

The above are actual responses that some candidate’s references have stated. If you do not stay current with your reference’s email addresses and current cell phone numbers, this too could happen to you! If you are a long-term job hunter it is also possible that your search is suffering because your references may be worn out from being contacted so much or perhaps they are inaccessible or have given negative responses on your behalf. Be aware of what they will be saying about you.

It is prudent to check in with your references periodically to find out if they are still willing and able to provide you with a reference. When you check in, it is a great time to make sure you have their correct email address and phone number. Confirm with them what they are willing to say positively about you on your behalf. Make sure when you leave an employer’s employ that you check and confirm with them that they will give you a positive reference.  Stay current on all contact information because you will be asked for it. If you give them phone numbers or email addresses, etc., that are out of date or out of service, it will reflect poorly on you before you even get out of the gate! If this preliminary information is incorrect, your attention to detail may be questioned and reflect a picture of you that is not accurate.

One more important point is it is prudent to do a digital background check on yourself if you frequent Facebook or other social media sites, as well as a credit report and criminal background check on yourself. Mistakes do happen, especially if you have a common name. You could be mistaken for someone else. If something turns up that may appear to be about you but isn’t, you need to know and remedy the situation to protect your good name and reputation. With that said, put your name in a search engine and Google yourself.

Make sure your Facebook friends haven’t posted incriminating pictures that you are not aware of and have not approved. It may not be anyone’s business what you do on your free time but if there is a picture of you getting crazy dancing on a table in a bar they may make it their business, like it or not. Also, get rid of any questionable comments you may have posted on online forums. Keep your image clean.

Your resume may be perfection and you may interview like a pro but if your references aren’t positive none of the rest will matter. We had a candidate that had both of the above. He appeared to be a perfect fit for the position. However, when it came time for a reference check it became a different story. When a previous employer was asked about the candidate the response from the previous employer was, “Oh, THAT guy. We canned him two years ago!” The candidate didn’t get the job. Do yourself a favor and check your references (and Google yourself) if only for your own peace of mind.

Cathy L. Sage is President of Robert Sage Careers, LLC; a Residential Modular Executive Search Firm and Job Board Publisher who specializes in the Factory-Built Structures Industries. She can be reached at and/or or 727.504.5350. For your Commercial Modular inquiries, please contact RSC’s Commercial Division Manager, Cindy K. Newberry at and/or or call 863.662.4185. For more information about the company or to visit the Job Board, access



No comments: