5 Critical Reference Trends for 2015: Advice From HR Professionals

Published: Feb 19, 2015

5 Critical Reference Trends for 2015: Advice From HR Professionals
February 19, 2015
By Jeff Shane, Reference Checks Expert

If you’re starting off 2015 with the resolution to change or improve your employment status, reference-checking firm Allison & Taylor has identified five key employment trends for you to consider during your employment search.

1. Employers are using social media and technology to assess your references.
Consider your social media choices carefully when looking for a new job; employers are now looking at social media accounts to get more information about a potential employee. Is the content appropriate and reflect you in a positive way? If you are using online job sites to float your resume, be aware that employers also search those and can see if your online resume matches the information that’s been provided to them. They may also pull references from these sites and contact those people, even if they’re not names you provided on your application with their company. The other thing to consider when it comes to references is that many employers are utilizing electronic reference systems, which rank an employee’s performance on a scale. While it is comprehensive and factual, it has the downside of limiting the opportunity employers have to favorably assess you. Be sure you have negotiated the terms of your reference upon departure from the company.

2. References have become more, not less, valuable.
Your resume may get you the interview, but it’s the report your references provide that will win you the job in a close race with another qualified candidate. The job market is poised for further growth in 2015, and it is critically important that your reference list is well planned, provides full contact information and is presented as a matching and professional addendum to your resume. Be sure to treat your reference list with the same level of care you’ve given to perfecting your resume.

3. The format, content and presentation references lists have changed.
In the past, the standard approach was to offer a simple list of references and their contact information. In 2015, savvy job seekers are modernizing their reference lists to make a powerful statement of their professional qualifications. An effective reference provides the references’ contact information, as well as the attributes they can attest to on your behalf. This approach offers several benefits to you as the job seeker. It allows you to showcase your abilities and achievements with former employers, and to tie those qualifications to the key job elements sought by prospective new employers. When offered to a potential employer—e.g., at the close of an interview - a well-crafted reference document will make a powerful and proactive statement on the job seeker's behalf.

See a new formatting example for management references.

4. Employers will use your peers & subordinates as references.
Don’t assume that employers will only check with Human Resources or your former supervisor for reference purposes. Employers are increasingly scrutinizing less traditional references such as peers and coworkers.

This can work to your advantage if you strive for successful work relationships; associates like a supportive second level supervisor or a matrix manager(s) can be key advocates on your behalf, and might be more supportive than traditional references like immediate supervisors.

(Note: A prospective employer does not require your permission to check any reference.)

5. Keep those workplace bullies off your reference list—they can destroy your chances for new employment.
Despite negative press about bad bosses (or coworkers), bullies still abound in the workplace and can adversely affect your current or future employment. Even if you’ve left a negative employment situation, these people will sometimes continue to sabotage your job seeking efforts with unflattering responses to a reference check.

Try to keep these people off your reference list if at all possible, perhaps using a different company contact. If this isn’t an option, try checking your reference before you go to that all-important job interview. If they are providing negative information about you, you do have recourse.

Keeping tabs on the way employers evaluate your references is a critical element in getting that new job. An up-to-date, thoughtful, and well-planned reference list can be your strongest chance to stand out in a sea of qualified applicants. Craft yours to reflect you in the best possible light.

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