So you made it through multiple rounds of interviews and the hiring manager has called to request your references. You are now anticipating an offer once they hear the glowing things your references have to say, right? Not so fast. Reference checking has changed and you need to be aware of the changes.
Playing the Game to Win
Of course you have to provide the references they requested. Be sure to ask permission first and to verify contact information before sharing it. Provide your references a copy of the job description and your resume and prepare them for the call. Let them know what the hiring manager feels is important so they can best support you. Be sure to thank them after they take the call and let them know the outcome. This is the part of the process you can control.
Be creative in identifying references. If the position requires managing others, identify someone you managed to act as a reference. If cross-functional collaboration is important, identify a colleague you worked with on a cross-functional project. If it requires customer or vendor interaction, do you have a vendor or customer who would attest to your skills in that area?
The References You Don’t Identify
Employers have played this game before. They know you will provide references with good things to say about you. No surprise there. What most employers will also do is review their contacts. If they know someone who works at the same company, they will ask about you. They will look for common Linked In connections and will seek input that way as well. They are looking for the honest feedback they want and can’t trust your references to provide.
Employers will also typically google the potential employee to see what comes up. How is a candidate to prepare? You can’t. Just know that employers will be seeking other contacts to tell them about you. You should however google yourself periodically so at least you know what they will see when they check out your online presence.
Yes, you still have to play the game and provide the requested references but know that they will likely check more broadly. This is why you should never burn any bridges.