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Reference Checking – Do, Don’t, Can’t, Won’t

By: Pam Barker


It’s that time of year again – New Year’s resolutions, fresh starts, etc. This is a very popular time of year to mount a job search. Even if you aren’t looking, there’s a good chance you know someone who is, and that’s why I want to talk about one of the most crucial and complicated parts of the job search – The Reference Check.


Getting A Reference:

You are through the interview process and your potential employer wants references… Now what?


Must Do’s For Job Seekers


1. You must ask permission to use someone as a reference. This is a common courtesy to the reference giver and you want to know if they are comfortable speaking on your behalf before you put YOUR career in THEIR hands.


2. When you get to the reference checking stage it is imperative that you contact your references and let them know to expect a call. You can even tell them about the position you are interviewing for so that they can speak knowledgeably about your abilities in particular for this position, and of course it is a courtesy to your reference giver.


Remember, your career is in their hands, do you want them to be caught off guard by the call from your potential future employer or ready to chat about what an amazing histotech you are?


Giving a Reference:

Someone has asked you to provide a reference for them… Now what?


Must Do’s for Giving References:

1. If the job seeker wants you to provide a reference from your current employer, check with your HR department on their policy.


2. Ask yourself these questions before agreeing to provide a reference:

  • Are you comfortable speaking about this person’s expertise?

  • Do you feel that you can give a positive reference for this person? (if not you will be doing them a favor by declining). Just say” I am not comfortable with providing references, but I wish you luck in your next position.”


The Informal Reference Check

The most complicated and critical reference check of all is the “informal reference check”- you know the one where someone walks in the lab and asks “hey does anybody know this person? Tell me about them.”


Yes the histology community is small and everybody knows everybody…


I ask you to ask yourselves these questions before you answer the call of an informal reference check. Remember YOU are taking someone ELSE’s career in your hands, not to mention well… karma!


1. How long ago did you work with this person? People change and grow. How accurate is your perception of their skills, work habits etc.?


2. Is your contribution constructive? Before you say anything negative, ask yourself is my criticism about their impact on patient care? You don’t have to like someone to work with them, you just have to get along. If you didn’t get invited to their wedding 10 years ago is that really a consideration for hiring them?


Managers! When you ask your staff for an informal reference on a candidate…

  • Consider the source when you process the information.

  • Ask follow up questions to qualify your staff’s perception of a potential employee. That goes for the positive and the negative feedback that you receive.

Reference checking is one of the most controversial and sensitive areas of a job search or hire! Always use caution, respect, honesty and empathy when:

  • Giving a reference

  • Asking for a reference

  • Considering an informal reference.

Any questions or comments please contact me at relia1@earthlink.net


Happy New Year!

Thanks,

Pam Barker –President/Senior Recruiter

RELIA Solutions



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