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FAQ: Will my employer really check my references?

Yes!  Your employer asks you for references as part of the hiring process for a reason.  The employment screening service they hire will use the references you supply to not only verify your employment, but get the inside scoop on what it is like to work with you.  Choose your references based on the understanding that they will be contacted.  Make sure the people you are choosing are those who can represent you in the best light.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a reference:

Pick someone who can advocate for you.  The person you pick should be well-spoken; the type of person that won’t panic when asked a hard question and someone who can speak clearly and with authority.

Pick someone who is on your side.  The person you pick should have your best interests at heart and want you to succeed.  They should be honest, but know and celebrate your strengths.  This person may not always be your direct superior, but in fact may be a coworker, client, or mentor.  You are free to pick any one with whom you’ve worked closely.  Make your choice count.

Contact your reference before including them on your application.  Because you gave your reference the heads up, they won’t be caught off guard.  They will give you a polished reference rather than stammer through unprepared.  This also gives you a chance to make sure all your contact information is up to date and accurate.  Not only is contacting your reference beforehand a professional and courteous practice, it may be a great opportunity to discuss with your reference how best to represent you!

Many people are honored to be asked to be a reference and want to do a good job.  You can discuss with this person exactly what strengths you want to present so you can tailor the recommendation for that position.  You may also find out some strengths you didn’t even know you had!

On no account should you make up a reference.  When a reputable employment screening company verifies your employment, they will also verify employment of your reference to make sure that person did indeed work with you.  If you forge a reference by making up a reference, providing the name of a person who did not actually work with you, or misrepresent their position, you will be sending a red flag to your potential employer that you are not to be trusted.  A false reference may be worse than no reference at all!

Do you have a question about background screenings or the hiring process?  Let us know by leaving your questions in to comments field below!

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