By Margaret Hansen
According to a recent JobsInME.com poll, reference checks top the list as the most common form of employment screening.
Unless otherwise specified, employers typically don't ask for references until they're ready to offer you a job.
Here are four important tips to remember if you are asked for references:
1. Ask Permission First
Giving out a reference's name without asking permission is a bit of a gamble. It catches the reference off guard and makes the employer wonder why you didn't take the time to ask or inform the reference of this. Overall, it doesn't put you in a good light with either party.
2. State Your Goals
Since every job is different, it's helpful to clue your references in on what type of position you're seeking. They can then apply what they know about you to that type of job. This will save them time and they'll be more prepared when they get the phone call from your potential employer.
3. Get Your References' Opinions
Once you've asked permission from your references, they've agreed, and you've informed them of your career goals, ask them what they think your strengths are. Make sure their opinion aligns with your goals. If they think you're a fabulous receptionist yet you're interested in a management position, cross them off of your list.
Ask them common questions such as "Would you re-hire me?" if you are talking to a former boss; or "What did you think of my work habits and reliability?" if you are talking to a former or current coworker. These are the types of questions that they'll be asked when the employer calls.
4. Be Courteous
From asking what title they prefer to following up with a thank you note, be sure to take good care of your references. What they say about you could win or cost you a new job.