Do jobs really call references?

Business Days

When applying for a new job, you will often be asked to list some references from your past so potential employers can speak to people that have worked with you in the past.

But, when are required to list multiple references, you may find yourself wondering if it is possible for the employer to contact everyone.

So, do jobs really call references?

Most of the time jobs do call references, or they outsource the reference checks to a third-party company who will verify your references are somehow connected to you through Linkedin or some other form of social media.

I have been in the interview process over 10 times over the last 15 years and I can remember each job I took reaching out to at least 1 of the references I listed on my application. Typically the manager will place calls to your references or they will outsource the background searches to another company that will try to call your references.

Companies are so busy in today’s world that outsourced background checks are becoming more common. Because these third-party companies are collecting a fee for their work and not actually employees, they may not be as thorough in calling all of your references as your potential boss or companies HR department maybe.

Because these third-party companies aren’t as vested in the research, they will randomly call references off of your resume and if the ones at the top don’t pick up, they will work their way down the list and call your contacts in order. Because of this reason, make sure you put your best references at the top of the list try and give them a heads up that someone may be calling them ahead of time.


How to get the best possible references:


When you are applying to a new job and need a reference check the best way to line up good references is to think through people in your past work history that you worked well with and would be willing to put in a favorable word on your behalf.

Try to pick people that are you reported directly to or someone that is in a position of authority.

It is ok to have 1 colleague in a similar role as a reference but you want to be careful not to list multiple coworkers that aren’t managers as it may raise a red flag to your potential hiring manager that you are difficult to work with.

People naturally want to help people out so don’t be afraid to ask previous managers to be one of your references. Here is a great article that goes into more depth on how to go about choosing your references.

Give them a heads up on when they may get a call

People are busy and If you are no longer working at the same company you may be secondary on their priority list of things to think about.

For people that are busy, they may see a phone number from an unrecognizable area code and automatically send it to voicemail.

The best thing to do is to give your references a heads up when you are applying to a new job and possibly a phone number or area code to be on the lookout for so they know to be looking out for a call.

Your references will appreciate the heads up!

Leave on good terms

One of the biggest mistakes people make when they leave a job is that they burn bridges on the way out.

It is Normal to feel excited about a new opportunity and have a sense of arrogance about moving on from a job that you felt like you are better than.

Even if you couldn’t stand your boss and you never want to speak with them again, try to leave the company on the best possible terms so that you can use them as a reference down the road.

Many bosses are not aware that their employees don’t like them and would be happy to serve as a reference for you in the future.

If you are staying in the same industry you will likely run into your former manager or colleagues again at some point in the future, so even if you feel like you got a raw deal, try to leave on good terms to keep a good reputation for yourself in the industry.

Business Days

Why not use illegitimate references?

Come back to bite you

While it may be tempting to fluff your resume with illegitimate references, you never know how willing your potential employer will be to dive deep into your background check. The last thing you want is for them to contact one of your references and the reference to act like they have no idea who you are!

Do part-time jobs actually, call references?

Part-time jobs are less likely to call references than full-time jobs, but you still want to make sure you have a couple of solid references to stand out from the competition.

It is better to have only one solid reference than many references that won’t pick up the phone when your potential hiring manager tries to call!

How do employers check references?

There are three ways employers check references: the hiring manager calls them, the companies HR department calls the references, or the company outsources the background checks to a third party company.

Hiring managers that get involved in the reference checks are the most vested in what your references will say about you since you will be reporting to them directly. When the companies HR department performs the reference checks, it can be hit or miss on which reference they call or how many they call.

I have interviewed for jobs in the past and only one of my references was contacted by an HR department, but other jobs where a hiring manager would not proceed with a job offer until he personally was able to contact each reference.

Because each policy is different from company to company, you want to not overlook this part of your resume and make sure you have the best possible references that are responsive and willing to put in good word for you ahead of time.

Do jobs really call your previous employer?

Yes, most of the time jobs will verify your employment with your previous employer for liability purposes. The last thing a company wants is to hire someone that has falsified their places of employment as it could create major problems if a new employee gets into a role that they aren’t qualified for.

There are different schools of thought on whether or not you can leave certain jobs off your resume. For instance, if you are only employed for a short period of time at one business and it does not contribute to your resume in a positive way, if the job was over 5 years or so, it probably won’t hurt to leave it off your resume as long as there aren’t large time gaps on the resume. Here is a good article that goes into more detail on when it is best to leave certain jobs off your resume.

Do jobs really call references Conclusion

The best way to keep your peace of mind is to use references that you know well even if they aren’t perfect. One good reference good make the difference in you getting the job over the competition, so you want to make sure you keep a good relationship with your references so that they can be the difference-maker for you in today’s competitive work environment.

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