By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

We once had someone go on three rounds of interviews with a client and he won the battle for the job with a close contender. Our client asked us to check his references.

Here’s what happened next.

Of the first four references provided, we received no phone numbers or email addresses. Two no longer worked there; one worked for a firm that did not allow him to provide a reference (he suggested we speak with the consulting agency that provided him to them); one was a divisional executive whose administrative assistant who, after several calls, politely said, “She doesn’t remember him).

On to the second set of references and day 3 of the request that they be checked. Four more names provided. Two no longer worked at his firm, one was bank president who did not return calls; I was able to speak with and was very flattering.

On to the third set of references and 5+ days have gone by.

I reached three more people; they were all fairly junior and offered the best of what I had.

Folks, there are two basic points I want to make.

One is obvious–if you plan on using someone as a reference, get personal email addresses and phone numbers for them so you stand a chance of reaching them when you need them and then STAY IN TOUCH WITH THEM.

The other is that the delays in reaching people and being pushed away offers another possible interpretation–theis person was not particularly good and no one wanted to put that on record.

Great references, especially for positions in leadership can put someone over the top in someone’s mind or create doubt which may cause an opportunity to fall apart.

Stay in contact with your references. In making all the difference in the world.


Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2007, 2014, 2021



JeffAltman, The Big Game Hunter
JeffAltman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 2300 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

Are you interested in 1:1 coaching, interview coaching, advice about networking more effectively, how to negotiate your offer or leadership coaching? Schedule a free Discovery call.

If you have a quick question for me, you can get it answered with a 3-5 minute video at Want to do it live? offers great advice for job hunters—videos, my books and guides to job hunting, podcasts, articles, PLUS a community for you to ask questions of PLUS the ability to ask me questions where I function as your ally with no conflict of interest answering your questions.  

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