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Do job recruiters actually contact all the references I give them?

I have had many small jobs over the summer, including lifeguarding and camp counselor. Many of my bosses in those jobs probably would not have much to say about me and I think that some of my professors at school or my swim coach would be better references. But they are not my boss and I have never worked under them. How do I handle that situation? #internships #job-search #web-applications #reference


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Kim’s Answer

Hi Stephanie!


Most job applications will have a section for "previous employment," which includes "Supervisor's name" and "may we contact this employer?"


There is normally a separate section for references. While it is true that you should list past co-workers or supervisors as references, character references are also important - people who can attest that you never skip class, try hard, work well as a team, etc. Some applications, in the references section, will ask for both "personal" and "professional" references. Some ask you to specify which one they are, some specify that they want only professional references, some simply ask for "references."


If it is a professional position you are applying to, say, Accountant, by all means, I'd list the Accounting professor! (after getting his permission - you will also need his personal phone #/e-mail address for those periods of long school breaks...). Mix it up a little as to who you use. And no, a lot of times references are not contacted for those types of jobs we normally take while in school, but, they are contacted for professional positions. I would encourage you to also think about the verbal ability of those you list. Somebody might think you are really great, but not be very articulate. They might not be a good choice.


Hope this helps!
Kim


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Ollie’s Answer

As a candidate, I've always been asked for former-boss references as well as references who know my work.


As a hiring manager, I've always tried to call at least one reference in each category. Part of this is me being diligent: before I ask my company to give somebody a key to our office, I want somebody to vouch for them. I want to know whether they showed up for work on time, and communicated clearly about doing their jobs, and paid attention to their work. Did they cooperate with co-workers? A chief lifeguard can tell me those things, where a professor really can't.


I also want to ask about their skills. That's where a professor or senior coworker can help.


And here's the thing: sometimes a question about a candidate comes up after their interview. For example, one person in the interview process might ask "does this person get mad when there's disagreement?" or even, heaven forbid, "does this person treat certain co-workers disrespectfully?" A reference check is a good way to find out about these suspicions. A good hiring rule is "no *ssholes" and the reference checks are a good way to help figure that out.


Look, you can't obviously ask "is this person a sexist oinkomaniac?" in a reference check. But you CAN ask, "please tell me if there's anything I should know when choosing teams this person will be part of." You can even ask, "is there anything else I should know?" As in many parts of life, it's very important to LISTEN.


So that's why reference checks ask for supervisors, even for nonprofessional job assignments.


And, by the way, people who made it through a summer as a lifeguard get a lot of respect from me for their perseverance and attention to detail. Lifeguarding is great training in personal discipline and care for other people. Be proud of that kind of experience!


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Ryan’s Answer

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. In my experience, it really depended on the type of position that I was going for. If I did well in the interview and was able to demonstrate my skills or ability to learn new skills, then perhaps they would not need my references. In some cases it was policy to call all the references. Sometimes they call one, really just to verify that I was there and did what I said my job was. It's just a way to gain more trust with the potential employer. When I started my career, I too didn't have references that would say much about me, but they would vouch for my ability to do my job. If you are a hard worker and were able to perform your jobs well, I wouldn't worry about it too much for your professional references. For your personal reference, I would give someone who knows you well and would give you a glowing review. This can be a professor, or work related friend. I wish you all the best luck in the new year!


Happy New Year!!


Hi Ryan! I would love to hear more about your own experience, in the past what have you heard from your references after those calls? Could you even tell us a bit more about how you selected your own references? Christian Varsava

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