The gruelling job interviews are over, the hiring team is deciding on your candidature and you are just a step away from landing the job. That’s when your prospective employer cross-refers your profile with the references you provided – and you never hear from them again.
What went wrong? Here’s what you should know when that request for references comes up:
1. Reference Checks Are as Gruelling as Interviews
Did you think that a reference check is a quick call by the HR and a few questions? Reference checks are a rigorous and exhaustive discussion covering behavioural patterns, work ethics, peer relationships. This may take up to an hour of time, that too from a rushed executive. Select only those people as references who are up for the task and will genuinely take interest in furthering your career.
2. References in Senior Roles Are Preferred
An ideal reference is someone you have reported to, as recruiters can cross-check your core competencies, knowledge and skills. However, an ex-boss’ knowledge of you and your past history can be a double-edged sword. Tread with caution. If you can confidently put forward your boss’ name, this is the reference that could get you the job, showcasing your achievements and the trust that you enjoy.
3. Avoid Proposing Peers as References
It is enticing to list one of the members of your network as a reference. Take this call based on whether they have an insight to your professional strengths, or when the company specifically asks for a ‘360-degree’ reference check. The safest bet is the large circle of people with whom you have worked with in the past – ex-bosses, clients, business partners and so on.
4. Prepare the Ground with Your References
Always ask for permission before providing someone’s name as a reference. If it has been a while since you worked with them, update them about your work and projects, so that they know exactly what you are up to. Letting people know that you are using their name as a reference also allows them time to frame their thoughts, instead of them receiving a surprise call from your prospective employer.
5. Look Beyond Your Workspace
Consider listing your mentor or a coach among your references too. They may not work with you on a day-to-day basis, but know your strengths and developmental areas. They will know exactly what to say about you and may nudge you towards getting that new job.
Your references should be the ones you can count upon, who can vouch for your career progress and who genuinely believe in your talent. That’s all it needs to decide whether to tick their name on your reference sheet or not.