Imagine you ace an interview for a position you really want. You wait by the phone for the call offering you the job. But the call never comes. What could have gone wrong after such a great interview? Sometimes a bad reference can override even a great interview. Hiring managers want to be certain they are hiring the right candidate and rely on past employers to give them feedback on a potential employee’s skills and character. Keep these factors in mind when choosing references to make sure you have the right people vouching for you:

  1. Use past supervisors– Your past supervisor knows what your duties were as an employee and how well you met challenges. They provide the most valued advice to anyone doing a reference check because they know your position and how well you faced challenges and met goals.
  2. Choose relevant references– For example, if you are applying for a writing position, choose a reference who knows your writing skills. If you worked in retail sales a former boss in that field would not be able to comment on your writing.  Hiring managers want to hear first-hand insight on your relevant skills.
  3. Tell your reference they are a reference! This may seem like common sense, but sometimes references are taken by surprise and cannot provide the best feedback without preparation.
  4. Be wary of HR laws- Some employers can only verify dates of employment and not comment on your work quality and character. Hiring managers may become suspicious when references cannot vouch for a former employee, which is why it is best to find what the company policy is before listing that person as a reference.

A great reference can be the clincher that lands a candidate a job. Make sure to alert your references that they may be contacted, prep them for possible questions, and most importantly, thank them!

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Celarity is an award-winning Staffing & Recruiting agency for Marketing, Creative & Digital talent with a mission: Creating happy careers with meaningful connections. For 30 years we have proudly connected 600+ companies with over 5,000 candidates.


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