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Jeff answers a question for someone about whether employers really check references.

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves life coaching, as well as executive job search coaching and business life coaching. He is the host of “Job Search Radio” and “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” both available through iTunes and Stitcher.

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I received the question from someone more junior than I normally do 1:1 coaching with that I want to speak to. The question is, “Do employers really check references?” References take a variety of different forms.

Yes, a lot of employers call up your former employer to check a reference. If they go the HR route, ofte what they will try to do is try to verify dates and salary. Behind the scenes, someone may be calling former manager to talk with them about your work.

Why do they do this? It’s really simple. This may be a shock to you but people lie. You may be a liar.

I know when I worked in recruiting, there were any number of circumstances where people had lied on applications for jobs that I had referred them to. They went to work; they were fired within a week when the truth came out.

I remember two awful situations where I warned someone before hand that a firm would do a copious background check. The person held to their lie and wound up being fired at the end of the 1st week. I will tell you some firms don’t; most firms do. They don’t want to be found in a situation where they’ve hired someone who is a liar, has lied about the credentials, you lied about the dates of employment . . . is just a problem
individual and is trying to cover it up.

There are signals that people send out that they could be, shall we say, “exaggerating the truth.” One signal is there is no managerial reference that is offered. Instead, it’s a peer level reference at the most recent employer or maybe one employer back.

Often they’ll only check the reference of the current employer after you’ve gone. So just recognize that it’s not just simply the most recent job; it can be a few jobs back so when you’re only offering peer level references, there’s a signal there.

Yes, employers really check references. They do it if they’re smart because there’s a lot that’s revealed through what is said and what isn’t said in the course of the reference that they can explore by sharp questioning that will help them determine whether or not you were a problem person at your previous pos and whether you have been lying to them.

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