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Study: Most resume references work against applicant

December 9, 2012

Sixty-two Percent Said a Reference Didn’t Give Positive Feedback About a Job Candidate
By Career Builders,

A new study from CareerBuilder cautions job seekers about the references they cite when applying to companies. Three-in-five employers (62 percent) said that when they contacted a reference listed on an application, the reference didn’t have good things to say about the candidate. Twenty-nine percent of employers reported that they have caught a fake reference on a candidate’s application.

The study was conducted by Harris Interactive© from August 13 to September 6, 2012 and included 2,494 hiring managers and human resource professionals and 3,976 workers across industries and company sizes.

“You want to make sure you are including your biggest cheerleaders among your job references,” said Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder. “Before choosing someone, ask yourself ‘Did this person understand my full scope of responsibilities? Can he or she vouch for my skills, accomplishments and work ethic?’ You also want to make sure that you ask your former colleagues if you can list them as a reference. If someone is unwilling, it helps you to avoid a potentially awkward or damaging interaction with an employer of interest.”

Do references always know they’re being listed?

Fifteen percent of workers reported that they have listed someone as a reference, but didn’t tell that person.

Do employers really check up on candidates?

The vast majority of employers (80 percent) said they do contact references when evaluating potential employees. Sixteen percent of these employers will contact references even before they call the candidate for a job interview.

How do references impact your chances of getting the job?

Sixty-nine percent of employers said they have changed their minds about a candidate after speaking with a reference, with 47 percent reporting they had a less favorable opinion and 23 percent reporting they had a more favorable opinion. Thirty-one percent said references haven’t swayed their decisions on a candidate one way or the other.

How many references should you provide?

Seventy percent of workers reported that they provide three or more references when applying to jobs. Ten percent said they typically don’t provide any references.

  
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