What Should You Do If Your References Are Ignoring You?

September 7th, 2012

When you leave a job on good terms, you should always ask your manager or colleagues with whom you’ve worked closely if you can use them for a reference in the future. And hopefully, they’ll say yes. But what happens when you need to alert your reference that they’ll be getting a call from a hiring manager about you, and they don’t answer your calls?

Before you panic, double check that you have the right phone number or email address.  If you find that your reference has moved to a new company, hopefully, with the help of some internet research (Google or LinkedIn), you will be able to locate your reference and provide your future employer with accurate contact information.

However, what if you know you have the correct contact information, but you cannot get in touch with your reference.  This is frustrating.  But what’s worse?  It could be damaging your chances of getting the job. If your references don’t return calls or emails from the hiring manager, it’s going to reflect badly on you, and in a competitive job market, you cannot afford to have anything negative to happen to you if you hope to receive a job offer.   The lesson of this story, never offer a reference prior to reconfirming they are willing to provide a reference on your behalf.

What happens if you cannot locate your original reference, or they are not taking your calls?  You have only one option.  Find new references!  A word of caution, if you approach someone that seems unenthusiastic about serving as a reference for you, you’re better off continuing your search.  You want to be confident that your reference will help your chances, not hurt them.

What if you don’t have a long job history and don’t have other employers who can serve as references for you? This part may involve some creativity. Did you have jobs or internships in college that could serve this purpose for you? If your current manager thinks highly of your work, you could also tell the potential employer you’d be happy to allow them to contact your current manager once you have an offer (and that the offer can be contingent on that reference check).  Just be sure you’ll get a good reference!

Are you looking for more career advice? Contact Synerfac! Not only can we help you strategize your job search, but we’d be happy to help you find work and gain new references!

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