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Resume References: Should You Call References?

Employers - should you be calling the references prospective employees provide?

When you are looking to hire someone for an open position within your company, the information you typically ask prospective employees to provide includes skills, experience, work history, education, and references. But do you really need those references? And when people provide them, should you be following up and calling their references? Let’s dive a little deeper into this.

As with every decision, there are pros and cons when choosing to call references of a prospective employee. Let’s start with the pros:

  • Speaking with someone who has previously worked with the prospective employee can provide some insight into their work style, personality, etc.

  • You may be able to weed out the “good” from the “bad” - if two people have almost identical resumes, a reference check may be what makes one stand out as a better candidate.

  • Checking references shows that you are doing your best to do your due diligence to ensure you are making the right hiring decision.

Now, let’s look at the cons:

  • First off, it can be time consuming. You may call and have to leave a message and wait for a call back. You may call and get stuck on the phone with someone who wants to share every little detail for hours on end.

  • Secondly, anything a reference shares is entirely subjective. We don’t know for sure that everything they are sharing is the truth and a fact. They can intentionally lie or accidentally share inaccurate information about a prospective employee, which may wrongly sway your decision.

  • Lastly, many employers will only confirm dates of employment due to fear of lawsuits. This doesn’t provide a potential employer with very much additional information about a prospective employee.

If you were hoping this article would give you a clear cut, black and white, yes or no, unfortunately that is not the case. It is impossible for any one person to say exactly what you, as an employer looking to hire, should do, however, we hope that these pros and cons have helped you weigh the decision and come up with the best standard operating procedure when it comes to hiring for your company!

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