Resume Critiques by a Professional in Human Resources

Help! My Prospective Employer Wants References

As a Human Resource professional, I can’t tell you how many times I heard it or I said it: “I’m sorry; we only verify positions worked and dates of hire.”

It’s true that it’s a risk for a previous employer to give out detailed information about an employee’s performance to a prospective employer.  Due to this risk, most companies have opted for the ‘less is more’ policy when it comes to employment references.  What is a job seeker to do?

The burden to provide easy to obtain references lands on the job seeker.  I’ve seen a lot of applicants provide contact information on their job application or resume and assume that everything will go well.  This is often not the case.  Often times HR professionals’ calls are not returned, no information beyond dates and hire are offered, or the number is not correct.  Like it or not, this hassle reflects poorly on you as an applicant.

The simple solution to this problem is to prep your references.  Contact them and figure out what they will be able to disclose.  Do they use a third party reference line? Make sure that they are comfortable providing a reference over the phone.  Would they prefer to provide a letter?  Do the legwork for your potential employer.

This process can get frustrating for the job seeker as you will probably repeatedly hear the phrase, “all we provide is dates of hire and position worked.”  Here are some ideas that may also provide your prospective employer with the information you need:

  • Save and/or Print fresh copies of your performance reviews. These can be kept in a file and shown to a potential employer in place of a performance reference.
  • Do you have an old supervisor/manager that no longer works for the company? Contact them and see if they would like to provide a reference for you.
  • Do you have any emails, accolades, workplace awards or training certificates that could be shown to a prospective employer? Put those in your file with your performance reviews.
  • LinkedIn also offers the ability for an old co-worker or supervisor to provide a reference that can be viewed on your profile.

Bottom line: Get creative!  Do the work for your prospective employer and make sure they easily get the information they need to prove that you are the best person for the job.  Also make sure your resume adequately showcases your skills, talents, and abilities. Contact me to order your resume critique today!

Paige Judnich, PHR, SHRM-CP – is an HR Professional turned resume consultant. Please click here to read more about Paige.