If you’re applying for a new job, you may be wondering – will my potential employer call my previous employers? Checking references is a common part of the hiring process. Below, we’ll cover everything you need to know about employers contacting your work history.
It’s Standard for Employers to Check References
The majority of employers will call your references as part of vetting you for an open position. They use these reference checks to verify your past duties, skills, and performance. Speaking with past managers or coworkers provides insights beyond what’s on your resume.
How Far Back Do Employers Check?
Many employers will contact your most recent 1-2 past jobs. Some may only check your current or previous employer. Jobs from earlier in your career are less likely to be contacted unless particularly relevant. Leadership roles, noticeable gaps in employment, and jobs you held longest often warrant a reference check.
What Questions Are Asked?
Common questions asked include confirming your employment dates, job responsibilities, strengths and weaknesses, work quality, and eligibility for rehire. Legally, past employers can only provide objective facts, not subjective opinions. Ensure your references are prepared to respond professionally.
Let Your References Know Ahead of Time
Contact your references to inform them they may be called for a reference check. Verify they still have your current contact information. Provide details on the roles you’ve applied for and share a copy of your latest resume to refresh their memory.
Consider Declining Certain References
If you left a previous job on poor terms, consider excluding them as a reference. You can decline to provide certain references if their assessment may be unfairly negative. Alternatively, you can explain the situation to the potential employer.
Maintain a Positive Attitude
Avoid expressing bitterness about past jobs during new interviews. Speaking poorly about managers or coworkers reflects negatively on you. Keep discussions focused on the positive.
Reference checks are par for the course in today’s hiring landscape. By choosing appropriate references and keeping them informed, you can ensure employers get a precise depiction of your background and qualifications. With preparation, reference checks don’t have to be a source of anxiety.
Looking for work? Get connected with one of our career experts.