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Reference Checks

Do employers really conduct reference checks?

It's not uncommon for U.S. employers to conduct background checks on potential new-hires or to hire investigative agencies to conduct them. Background checks typically include reference checks and then some.

Does a reference check matter?

You betcha. Employers are concerned about making costly hiring mistakes. They don't know you at all when you first walk through their doors. A couple of interviews reveals little; after all, you are selling you during interviews.

Even only one exceptional reference check might be the deciding factor in your favor. On the flip side, even only one mediocre or unreachable reference can lose a job opportunity for you.

Be prepared to provide at least four references.

Provide only employment references, if you have them. (If you're short on employment references, the next page suggests others.) It's a good idea to have two or three standby references too, should one or more of your main references become unreachable.

Bias your reference list with dependable people, who you know will give you good marks. Of course, potential employers will "suspect" that you biased your list, for the obvious reason. Still, employers want to know that there are at least some people who have good things to say about you; it puts them at ease.

List reliable employment references, such as:

  • Vice Presidents
  • Managers
  • Supervisors
  • Coworkers
  • Subordinates
  • Satisfied Customers

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