Two years ago, if a client told me that the company they were interviewing with was getting ready to check references, I would have thought, “Great! It sounds like an offer is not far behind.” But now, with unemployment where it is, the job search landscape is far different and more competitive than ever. As a result, many companies are checking the references of multiple candidates in order to help make their final decision. So, getting it right with your references is extremely important. Here are a few tips:

 

Be Proactive

 

Don’t assume the reference and reference checker will connect. Find out who will be calling your reference and let your reference know. I would suggest taking the steps to help schedule it. Not only will this help make certain it happens, but your reference will be in a better state of mind and more prepared for the call. You want them focused on selling you, not multitasking by driving, checking emails, etc..

 

Prepare Your Reference

 

Schedule a call with your reference to review your background and the position you are interviewing for. Send them a copy of your resume. You want them understanding why this is a great job for you. They need to both think and speak in terms of why your past accomplishments are an indicator of what you are going to do for your future employer. It is all about being specific, quantifying and qualifying why you are the best hire – period.

 

You Are Only Good at What You Check

 

Follow up with your reference afterwards to find to how the call went. Were there any stumbling points? Any red flags they think you might need to address or be aware of? This way you know if there are any points you need to go back and re-address or affirm with your future employer.

 

There reference check is so much more than verifying employment. By taking these steps, you will not only properly prepare your reference, but you might discover you need to replace one of the people on your list. Remember, knowing they are checking references doesn’t mean you have the job, but it does mean you are a finalist. This is the last leg of your journey, so it’s time to pull out all the stops. Make sure your references tip the scales in your favor!