4 Deadly Reference Mistakes that are Costing You Job Offers

By Kinexus on 16 August 2016

4 Deadly Reference Mistakes That Are Costing You Job Offers

You’ve made it through the initial screen, the interview with HR, the interview with the line manager and aced the psych testing – next hurdle references.

Surely, this is the easiest step in the process – you provide the contact details for people you’ve worked with, they say nice things and you get the job, right?

Not true. All too often these deadly reference mistakes at best can cost you time before you get that wanted job offer and at worst, may cost you the job opportunity completely.


1.       Not calling a Referee before giving their contact details

You should always give your referee a call before handing out their contact details. This will give you a chance to check they’ll be around to take the call and prep them on the role you’re going for so they can be prepared to answer with information relevant to the role.

Referees who are on leave, unavailable due to conferences or interstate travel or changed numbers won’t help you in getting through the last phase before that job offer.

2.       Providing personal rather than professional referees

Unless you haven’t worked before you should always provide professional references – people you have worked for or with in a work environment.

Whilst a personal reference may be able to confirm you are who you say they are they can’t comment on your ability to do the job you are going for which is the focus of a reference.

3.       Providing colleagues rather than your manager as a referee

Ideally your referees should be previous managers, people who you have directly reported to and can provide details about the work you did whilst working for them.

Colleagues are rarely accepted as a referee as they are not able to provide the same level of insight and verification that a manger can. Sometimes it can be tricky to provide a manager as a referee especially if you’re still working for them. If you have any concerns or are unable to provide a manager as a referee always discuss why with the person who’s asked for referees.

4.       Providing a referee without knowing what kind of reference they’ll give

You’d be surprised at how often referees are unable to provide comment due to company policy or give a less than glowing reference. I’ve called a referee before and they were barely even able to recall the job the person had done!

Discuss what will be required of the referee and any concerns they may have in acting as a referee for you. You need to know what kind of reference they’ll give you.

References aren’t simply a tick in an HR box; they are an important step in the quality process to verify information.

By avoiding these reference mistakes you’ll make sure you’ve done everything you can to make it through this final stage to hopefully get that job offer.

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