Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Career Column: Reference Checking By Recruiters

Executive career advice from Dave Opton, founder of ExecuNet.

Dear Dave:

I just had my first conversation with a recruiter about a position that seems like a perfect match. He asked for my references and said that he would be making a few calls. I thought this was a bit unusual. When in the hiring process are references checked by recruiters?


Dear Russ,

Generally the practice remains that references are checked (always with the candidate’s permission) either just before an offer is to be made, or an offer is made contingent on references being checked to the satisfaction of the hiring organization.

More executive career advice

The Recruiter’s Role In Negotiations
: Always remember who the recruiter represents.

Tips On Videoconference Interviewing
: There are tricks to handling a video interview.

Having Your Contacts Distribute Your Resume
: Is it worth having your friends pass out copies of your resume?

Lack Of A College Degree
: Deal proactively with perceived educational shortcomings.

How To Handle ‘Behavioral Interviews’: Learn how to better answer those tough questions about “real-life” job experiences.

However, there are some instances when recruiters ask to speak with references earlier in the process. Usually, when recruiters ask to do this, it is because they want to get a better feel for the candidate before they present to the client. Or the client, once presented with a candidate’s background might respond, “Let’s see what the references have to say, and if it’s positive and to our liking, then extend an invitation to meet.”

If you are asked for references very early in the process and you are uncertain that you are interested in the position or uncertain that the interest in you is serious, I would recommend that you hold your approval until you are confident that once the references are checked the hiring process will move forward. After all, references are people who are prepared to go to bat for you, but they are also busy and you don’t want to go to the well too often and wear out your welcome!

One last note: Be sure to keep your references informed of the status of your search and the prospect that they will be getting a call. And always, ALWAYS follow-up with a thank-you and status report on results.

Hope this is helpful,


Dave Opton is CEO and Founder of ExecuNet, an online career services center for executives. Questions can be sent to Dave at [email protected], he can’t answer each individually but look for yours in an upcoming column.

Similar articles

Latest Articles

Top Data Visualization Tools...

The amount of data generated and consumed by organizations is growing at an astounding rate. The total volume of data and information worldwide has...

The Data Capture Market

Data capture is the process of collecting, ingesting, or otherwise acquiring structured and unstructured data and either converting it into a data format usable...

NVIDIA and the Move...

NVIDIA recently held a Q&A with its visionary CEO Jensen Huang.   While the Q&A this week focused on NVIDIA’s announcements at Computex, his opening and...

Acquia Updates Open Digital...

BOSTON – Acquia’s Drupal-based customer experience (CX) platform is looking different to enterprise users. Acquia made updates last quarter across its three-part Open Digital Experience...