References: Didn’t they go out with the ark? Today, we are much more likely to think that all the power in job search lies in employee referral programs or social media recommendations, and as a result, many job seekers forget the power of a good reference.
According to a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) questionnaire, 92% of employers conduct background checks, mostly during pre-employment screening (87%). Some even repeat checks on an annual basis (15%) or upon promotion (10%).
Top tech companies like Google, Stripe, Meta, and Microsoft all rely heavily on references to sort through potential candidates and make sure they find the right person for the position.
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So if you’re about to start looking for a job, it’s time to line up your ducks. Here’s everything you need to know to make sure your credentials help you stand out (for all the right reasons).
What is a reference?
In a nutshell, a reference to a testimonial from a referee, i.e. someone who is trustworthy and whom a potential employer can contact to learn more about your experience, work ethic or just your personality.
It’s basically a way for them to check all the great things you say about yourself. After all, who hasn’t filled up their resume a bit?
When do you need a reference?
Often you don’t need to list your references on your resume or include letters of reference with your applications. But you should always have your references handy in case a potential employer contacts them.
Employers typically contact references toward the end of the hiring process. They use these references to help them choose between the last few candidates and make sure they make the right choice. References can be especially helpful if you’re changing careers and don’t have as much concrete experience to detail in your application.
Who should I ask to be a referee?
There are a number of types of referees, but for work-related purposes, keep it work-related. Avoid friends, family, neighbors, your hairdresser… you get the idea. Your reference list should only include people with whom you have worked in a professional capacity. Ideally, it should be a former manager or supervisor who can answer questions about your work style, abilities, and skills.
Do I have to ask for permission?
Yes! Always ask your references in advance whether they would like you to provide their telephone number and/or e-mail address. Nobody wants to just get a phone call about an old colleague they haven’t seen in three years. Be attentive and always thank them too.
However, I didn’t get along with my previous boss
This is a no. If you and your previous manager didn’t see each other, don’t write them down as a reference. It’s best to just forget about them as they probably won’t say great things, so use another employer instead.
I have not told my current employer that I am looking for a job
Again, not a good idea. Imagine what would happen if an HR manager called your current manager looking for a reference. It probably won’t result in a great testimonial for you.
What if my referees are on leave?
There are plenty of reasons why a referee can be unreachable. Prepare for the worst-case scenario and provide the details of a reserve reference, preferably someone from the same company that your potential employer could contact instead.
How often should I update my list of references?
Like your resume, your list should be constantly evolving. Every time you change roles, you have to update the list. You can also customize your lists to be more suitable for certain roles.
Now that you’ve got your credentials in order, it’s time to start thinking about a new job. Below we have three that you can apply for on the House of Talent Job Board.
Data Integration Platform Engineer, Telenet
Leading telecommunications company Telenet is keen to hire a Data Platform Engineer to join a team that sits at the wheel, defining and wiring all data components together. You are responsible for the engineering, integration and maintenance of the big data platform, focused on technology/infrastructure services, and you help design the platform and the required services with a focus on security, maintainability, flexibility and efficiency in a cost-effective way. Discover the full job specification here.
Network Engineer, CrowdStrike
Crowdstrike is a global leader in cybersecurity. At the moment the team is looking for a passionate and innovative Network Engineer who will work remotely. If you have a solid track record of building and operating hyperscale hybrid cloud networks, sign up today. Benefits include great health benefits, physical and mental wellness programs, plus ample parental leave. Read more here.
Site Reliability Engineer, Booking.com
Do you have what it takes to be a Site Reliability Engineer or SRE? At Booking.com, SREs handle operational issues, such as software issues, and code their way out of problems. If that appeals to you, you can apply online today. However, you will need experience in a programming language, knowledge of the basics of cloud computing and good interpersonal skills. Apply now.
Interested in a career step? If the answer is yes, check out more great features on the House of Talent Job Board today