Friday, October 9, 2015

Why references really matter

Written by: Eric Garlinger, Executive Recruiter, CFS Grand Rapids
Anyone considering a job change knows that at some point they will need to provide references to a potential new employer. They also realize that before any job offer is made, those references will be contacted. What many candidates glaze over is the importance of the reference’s feedback and who the best references actually are. 
Before you throw 3-4 names and phone numbers at a company, you need to think about what you are providing and what the company is hoping to accomplish by contacting these people. A mediocre reference will say, “Yes, Joe was a good employee, and these were his main responsibilities.” A great reference will give you a raving review. This person sells your attributes and tells a company why you are great person to hire. So when you think about references, be selective and particular about whom you choose.
The people that companies want to speak with are former or current supervisors/managers or people you indirectly report to but can provide great feedback. Try to avoid coworkers at the peer level and definitely avoid friends and family. However, if you have managed or mentored someone in the past and built a solid relationship with that person, they can speak to your leadership and managerial capabilities. If this applies, strongly consider using that person.
If companies have two or more candidates they are considering for a position, strong references can help push you forward in their process. You should stay in touch with your references, especially if they are from a position you had 10 years ago. If you near the end stages of an interview process and suspect reference checks will happen soon, reach out to your references. Let them know details about the position, that they will likely be contacted soon, and how important raving feedback is. Keeping someone in the loop is a great way to stay in touch, and it lets you have as much control over the situation as possible.
All this information isn’t rocket science, but it’s still crucial to know. As a person who regularly performs reference checks, I believe that the importance of this step is often overlooked, and the benefit of putting your best foot forward is underemphasized.

We love to hear your questions and insight, so please comment below! You can also reach out to one of our expert recruiters. Find the closest CFS office to you here. 

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