Reference Check Process: A Guide for Job Seekers

reference check

Reference checks can “seal the deal” or derail a job offer. Fearing a hiring misstep, employers are intensifying reference checks to make sure prospective employees are what their resumes and interviews promise. The following article will throw light on ‘reference check process’, and what every employee should know about it to understand its importance. 

What is the Process all about? 

The first thing that one needs to know is what exactly Reference Check Process is?  It is the process, which is conducted from employer side and is one of the important parts of candidate selection for the open job. In fact, it is the last step that is undertaken during the selection. It begins with asking for the references from candidates. Once provided, the employer contacts to the referred person and gathers information about the candidate. If hiring for lower level position, 3 reference should be sufficient, for senior position 5 reference should be appropriate, and for senior level selection, at least 7 reference is required. 

For a job seeker, it is important that you list the references of only those who can sing your praises. You should personally contact them and ask whether they are comfortable enough to provide info to new employer.  

Hence, for a candidate it is important to provide appropriate references, be it the person or the professional work giving a clear picture of your previous work and background. 

What things should be included in your Background Check? 

Reference checks can range from verification of candidate’s social behavior or detailed account of work history. In the age of social networking, employers also check the social status of the candidate on networking sites, such as Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. 

Apart from these, employer’s also conduct background check for:

  • Criminal History
  • Civil History
  • Previous Employer Verification
  • Education

How to Manage your Reference?

This is the most important part of reference check process and you need to keep them in loop. Here are certain ways on how you can manage your references:

  • Contact them when the process of reference check comes near. Describe the position for which you have applied and how they must provide information about you and your previous work.
  • Keep a record of their contact details, which include contact number, email ID, designation, and relation.

If you are seeking your previous employer as a reference, then don’t be under impression that your previous employer will describe you in golden words. In fact, HR generally hesitates to speak about what they say and even are concerned about legal things. It is important for you to manage your reference precisely to help your employer to contact them easily. 

General Obstacles Faced during Reference Check:

In reference check, there can be certain obstacles to clear the things. However, the employee needs to overcome this problem with solutions.

1.  Reluctance from Previous Employer: As mentioned above, not every employee will easily provide information about you. They won’t go beyond basic information which is needed.

Solution: Contact your previous employer and make them understand that you want to move ahead in your career. If you are successful in convincing them then you have passed the first step.

2.  Your First Job: If this is your first job, then employer doesn’t have any reason to check about previous job. So for you, it is quite difficult to seek reference. 

Solution: In this situation, you can stay connected with professors and people with whom you have performed service. They will surely provide positive words about you.  

What after the Reference Check?

Once the reference process by your employer is done, you must send them a Thank You note. Even if you don’t get the job, take time to thank them and also inform them about the result. This will really make them feel important and will help you during next job interview and reference.

Giving them a heads up right from the start of interview process and until the reference process comes to an end should not be overlooked. Having a good rapport with your ex-employer, friends, and others ensures a good chance they will help you land the job.  

Remove all your Worries:

It is obvious that if you have a bad work experience or bad reputation among colleagues and previous employer, you will have less of a chance of getting a reference. Luckily not every candidate develops a negative impression. 

It is quite natural to get worried when it comes to seeking an effective reference. However, being confident of approaching the right person and getting positive reviews from them will eliminate your worries. Hence, it is important to think through your choices of references. Picking and preparing the best references will help land you the job. 

Swati Srivastava is an avid writer with a keen interest in job search and career counselling. Currently associated with, her articles are published on several job search portals and online career magazines.

One thought on “Reference Check Process: A Guide for Job Seekers

  1. This is an interesting topic! I am a senior in college so I found it helpful for when I begin looking for jobs. I’ve been told that sometimes, a reference list is not necessary, but I’ve always thought to include one. This article was helpful for me and I will certainly keep this in mind when I begin applying for jobs. Great read.

    Doug Killough
    Writer/Editor, Platform Online Magazine

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