Jun 26, 2012
The short answer is yes – to confirm what your referees say about you. It is important to know what your prospective employers are being told when they contact your nominated referees, because that knowledge may make or break your chances of securing the job you are applying for.
A job reference, even if provided in written form is likely to be checked for accuracy and to make sure that you are what you say you are. For this reason, it is important to be selective when providing references, or the details of people who are prepared to give verbal references on your behalf. A former employer may not provide as glowing a reference as you would like to think.
This is why it is important to your job application to be sure about your referees. Know what they say about you. The only way to be really sure about this is to engage someone else, either a trusted friend or a company that specialises in this field, to do it for you. Once these checks have been done, you will know for sure if your references are appropriate for submission.
If your referees let you down by providing a less than glowing reference then there are things you can do to address it. The best option is to choose another person to act as a referee and bypass the negative reference altogether. This isn’t always possible, especially in cases where your work experience and hence source of references is limited.
Another option if you think a bad reference from a former boss is stopping you from getting a job is to contact your old boss directly and ask them about it. Speak to them about what they may be saying, and try to reach some compromise or agreement with them. Remember to speak clearly, politely and respectfully, as if you are rude or combative, you will be unlikely to have any success.
Alternatively you can be upfront with your prospective employer about your referees, and be specific about what they are likely to encounter when they contact them themselves. This is a good option because you are seen to be open and honest, and you have the opportunity to get your side of the story across first, before they hear anything that is likely to prevent them from offering you the job.
Remember that honesty is the best policy, and that knowledge is power. All steps in the job application process are important, and can be stressful. So do yourself a favour and improve your chances of securing the job you want by being in control of all aspects on the application – including the reference check.
By Erik Rose