Furnished upon request. It is assumed that you will eventually need some references. However, do you really know what these folks are saying about you? I recently had one candidate furnish the requisite three references for a client company.

The client had a really tough time reaching the third person and was about to just present an offer. However, at the last minute the person was reached and then proceeds to say “he is a great guy, but needs his hand held too often on big projects”. Say WHAT? Why did you offer to provide a reference? Needless to say my candidate did not get the offer. There are several things to learn here.

First, make sure you know more or less what folks are going to say about you. It is assumed that when you asked for a reference it is asking of a positive reference.

Second, if you are looking for a job, you should keep in touch with your references. At some point, these folks will get a call regarding you. It is best to keep their mind refreshed as to who you are.

Third, have more than three people ready to give references for you. Really, after having a difficult time reaching the third person, we should have moved on. They should know you are looking for a job and that if a reference calls comes in then that means you are very close and its time sensitive.

Another learning here is on the client side. After they had eight of their own employees raved about this candidate, why did they believe one person who didn’t value their time. Someone who clearly signed up as a reference, but turned on the candidate.

Why value the feedback from such a person? Clearly there were different motives at play here. Sometimes, clients need to trust their own people and go forward. This candidate subsequently found a great job and is loving his new company.

Pam Dimarzio, BSChE is an experience recruiter and engineer sourcing roles nationwide. Pulling from her experience in the engineering world and applying it to the technical recruiting.

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