Is a “Good” Reference Sabotaging Your Search?

You’ve had a great interview, met everyone in the department, and it all feels right. Your potential new manager indicates that a reference check is needed and says that you’ll be hearing back from her “soon.”  You are left believing that an official offer for the job is right around the corner. And then…nothing. Could it be a bad reference check?…YES! Is it possible that a former boss is  raising some concerns? Or is he just not saying much of anything which causes doubt to the listener?! Or is there is a discrepancy on your résumé that raises a question of truthfulness?   There are many cases where a job offer is lost based on a poor or questionable reference check. 

What can you do about this?  You should do your homework! You have several choices – call each of your references and ask them point blank if they have any concerns about recommending you. Of course, you cannot always be sure they are being truthful with you.  So, you could have a recruiter or a good friend contact these references stating that they are doing a reference check on you (which would be true!). Have them ask the usual questions about your past performance, reliability, general business ethics, and of course, ask if there would be any concerns about hiring you. There are also professional services that you can use to do this. Whichever method you choose, you’ll feel more confident about providing references when you have checked up on THEM!