Although your resume holds a lot of weight when applying to a new position, you also need previous references who will attest to who you are as an employee. Putting in the extra time and effort to select and provide references is imperative. But when do companies conduct the reference checks?
Nearing the End of the Hiring Process
References are often conducted once an employer is interested in a candidate (although it depends on each employer). From a recruiter standpoint, references are done after the employer has demonstrated interest, and is looking to move along to the next steps of the process, which is a good indication that they’re serious about considering you. Generally, your references will be requested, so they don’t need to be provided at the time of application, nor listed at the bottom of your resume. Employers know that your “references will be available upon request” – and if they are interested in reaching out to them, they’ll call for them.
Ensure All The Information is Prepared
Despite that reference checks are not always completed at the beginning of the job application/hiring process – that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have them prepared. You should ask your contacts if they would like to be a reference, and ensure that all their contact information is provided. You should aim for three references, and at least one of those from your most recent position – whether it be your current position or the one previous to that. However, be sure your references are listed, the information is accurate, and they’re informed.
Inform Your Contacts
If you ask past employers, managers, colleagues, mentors or coaches to be a reference and they accept that responsibility, be sure to also inform them when you’re applying for jobs. For example, if you ask them to be a reference, but you don’t apply for a new position for a few years following, you should communicate with your references that you are job searching again, and if they are still comfortable with being a reference. If so, update their information and notify them that they may receive a call. You may also have new references to ask in mind at this point. So be sure to inform your references prior to your job search so you are both prepared.
Prior to An Offer
Employers will reach out to your references prior to offering a job – so generally near the end of the hiring process. However, doing a reference check does not imply you will be receiving an offer. The employer could be doing references for a few other candidates and may have more steps to follow that may cause them to reassess their decision once more. So, although it can be a good sign that your references are being contacted – this is not a sure sign that you will be receiving an offer.