Careers

Phone Reference checks

  • Last Updated:
  • Jan 18th, 2021 12:45 am
[OP]
Jr. Member
May 25, 2018
110 posts
24 upvotes

Phone Reference checks

First of all we all have our own writing styles, opinions etc. Each to their own. Secondly pls no personalized comments that are personal in nature- let's just focus on the point of the topic and address it.

Reference checks have been in existence for a long time.... recently we've seen companies adopting a just dates, title and salary reference/employment confirmation aproach while the company doing the hiring insists on "personal reference" from a manager which is effectively against the company policy....

There are many flaws with references that if you are not careful can have your references get tired.

Why isn't one written reference acceptable? If your references give you one written reference that you can show to any employer?

Why must it be a phone call?

Why isn't a written reference Okay?

A written reference would seem to solve the problem of "getting old" in the mind of a previous manager. If a job search takes 7 months, it becomes harder and harder to obtain a reference simply because you are no longer fresh in the ex-managers mind.

Any thoughts?
15 replies
Deal Fanatic
Mar 21, 2010
5613 posts
2446 upvotes
Toronto
One of the reasons is, well, I could write you a reference saying that you're one of the best astronauts there has ever been. If you don't validate the reference - which means contacting the person who wrote it - it doesn't have that much value. Granted you could just give the phone number of your buddy and say it's your previous manager, but it's a little harder to do, and the company could choose to go around that and contact your previous company directly and ask to speak to so-and-so or ask if you worked there.

Basically if no one contacts, and therefore disturbs, the previous company/manager and instead just accepts a written letter, pretty much every reference is just going to be a fake document full of lies.
Deal Fanatic
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Oct 16, 2008
8058 posts
2727 upvotes
Maple
Anyone can write reference letter.
Deal Fanatic
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Dec 3, 2009
5797 posts
1116 upvotes
Toronto
The more verification in the hiring process the better.
Remember to be an RFD-er and NOT a degenerate.
[OP]
Jr. Member
May 25, 2018
110 posts
24 upvotes
Manatus wrote: One of the reasons is, well, I could write you a reference saying that you're one of the best astronauts there has ever been. If you don't validate the reference - which means contacting the person who wrote it - it doesn't have that much value. Granted you could just give the phone number of your buddy and say it's your previous manager, but it's a little harder to do, and the company could choose to go around that and contact your previous company directly and ask to speak to so-and-so or ask if you worked there.

Basically if no one contacts, and therefore disturbs, the previous company/manager and instead just accepts a written letter, pretty much every reference is just going to be a fake document full of lies.
Sorry I wasn't clear enough. Let's say I'm working at a company called Saturn Inc. On my last day, there I ask my three references there to write me an email from their work email address with their email signatures..... I then have references i can use perpetually without bothering them in future....

Makes more sense now?
Deal Fanatic
Mar 21, 2010
5613 posts
2446 upvotes
Toronto
Mrman123 wrote: Sorry I wasn't clear enough. Let's say I'm working at a company called Saturn Inc. On my last day, there I ask my three references there to write me an email from their work email address with their email signatures..... I then have references i can use perpetually without bothering them in future....

Makes more sense now?
But without contacting those people, how does a prospective employer know that it's a legitimate email? If you sent me an email, I could easily edit what you say or even your name or email address and forward it to someone else. If that someone else is expected to have no contact with you, they'll never know.
[OP]
Jr. Member
May 25, 2018
110 posts
24 upvotes
Manatus wrote: But without contacting those people, how does a prospective employer know that it's a legitimate email? If you sent me an email, I could easily edit what you say or even your name or email address and forward it to someone else. If that someone else is expected to have no contact with you, they'll never know.
because it will be simon@saturninc.com and it will be expanded to show that. The idea is that simon (my previous manager) will send me an email - I will then print out a hard copy of that email and use it for references.

Some prospective employers ask for references for 3 - 5 years - you can imagine trying to contact someone from 3 years ago trying to get references - but if you got a written reference from when you were leaving that you file and keep - its easier.

But I get your point - if it is forwarded electronically it can be easily edited etc and a call may still be necessary to confirm.
Deal Addict
Jan 1, 2017
1382 posts
1217 upvotes
Mrman123 wrote: because it will be simon@saturninc.com and it will be expanded to show that. The idea is that simon (my previous manager) will send me an email - I will then print out a hard copy of that email and use it for references.

Some prospective employers ask for references for 3 - 5 years - you can imagine trying to contact someone from 3 years ago trying to get references - but if you got a written reference from when you were leaving that you file and keep - its easier.

But I get your point - if it is forwarded electronically it can be easily edited etc and a call may still be necessary to confirm.
That’s why you should build your network, keep it active and engaged through the years. Keep in touch with your old boss. He/she may help your career in many ways than just providing a reference. For example your old boss may go to a new company and want to hire you there or he/she may have contacts at a company you want to work and connect you with the right people there.
Deal Addict
Jun 27, 2006
1707 posts
2014 upvotes
There seems to be no consistency in policy often leaving the job candidate in the middle. You have potential employers generally asking a bunch of questions for what they consider valid reasons. You have some past employers only confirming title and dates for their own reasons; sometimes even if they don't, the candidate's manager leaves the company and HR will only provide title/dates.

The reality is if I am using someone as a reference, I am probably on at least ok terms with the person and know that they won't say anything that raises any red flags. From that prospective, I understand where the OP is coming from.
Deal Fanatic
Mar 21, 2010
5613 posts
2446 upvotes
Toronto
Mrman123 wrote: because it will be simon@saturninc.com and it will be expanded to show that. The idea is that simon (my previous manager) will send me an email - I will then print out a hard copy of that email and use it for references.

Some prospective employers ask for references for 3 - 5 years - you can imagine trying to contact someone from 3 years ago trying to get references - but if you got a written reference from when you were leaving that you file and keep - its easier.

But I get your point - if it is forwarded electronically it can be easily edited etc and a call may still be necessary to confirm.
I get why this is annoying and frustrating, but if people are willing to submit fake or doctored degrees and diplomas (and some get the job and don't get caught for years if at all), people are going to be willing to Photoshop reference letters if they think no one's going to verify them. Especially since you have Simon's signature etc. since you worked there, it would be easy to snip it out and paste it over an email you wrote yourself, change "mrman@saturninc.com" to "simon@saturninc.com" (even physically in MS Paint if you had to), and print it out.
Deal Addict
Oct 24, 2010
1492 posts
1260 upvotes
Ottawa
A written reference doesn't allow questions.

As a hiring manager, I target questions to the position and to what qualities I'm seeking. I start with a question to the referee, and then let it turn organically into a conversation. The referee's responses prompt additional follow up questions from me.

You can't have that kind of interaction with a set in stone written reference letter.
Deal Addict
Jan 17, 2009
3093 posts
3020 upvotes
Toronto, Ontario
Photoshop is why written references are worthless unless they're actually validated. It's much easier for everyone involved to just give contact details.

References are a great tool, because if you can't be bothered to find a couple people who aren't related to you that will say good things about you... Then you're either not very sociable, not good at your job, or don't have many contacts. Even if you have no experience in the field you should be able to find a teacher or something who will vouch for you.
Deal Fanatic
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May 11, 2009
5671 posts
2251 upvotes
Debtario
^ Like DivX said, depends on the employer. Personal references seem to be more of a thing when moving internally within a company and between smaller companies in certain fields, otherwise most HR dept. will only confirm bare basics due to privacy policies.

It's not unheard of for your reference to forget you, particularly if it's a large company. To some interviewers it's actually a good sign, it means you didn't do anything spectacularly horrible to warrant negative attention.

Printed emails can be easily forged, and direct emails can be spoofed with ease as well.
"I possess a device, in my pocket, capable of accessing the entirety of information known to man. I use it to look at pictures of cats and get in arguments with strangers"
Member
Aug 15, 2018
271 posts
100 upvotes
I worked in HR for years. To me, reference checks make sense only if the identity of the person giving reference can be proven (contact him on his work email address and not personal email, calling the company and asking to talk to him/her, if hiring manager know the person giving reference personally etc...). Otherwise, it could be anyone on the phone and I wouldn't give the reference check any importance. Letters can be falsified extremely easily these days, no use.

On a personal note, I believe reference checks will soon be a thing of the past, or will be regulated. It is too easy for an ex-employer to bar someone from getting a job somewhere else; it is sometimes difficult to understand if the person giving reference does it on a personal or professional note (i.e. if you worked for a manager you didn't go along with, he/she might shoot you down on the professional side).

For most positions (except senior roles), the probation period is in my opinion a good enough guarantee. Reference checks to be taken with a pinch of salt.

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