As a professional job reference checking service, we speak with both job seekers and job references many times a day. What we often find is job seekers responding to a problem, then misdiagnosing the problem related to not getting phone interviews, on-site interviews and/or job offers. Many times what is perceived as a bad job reference, the problem is not related to a job reference at all. Understanding when job references are checked will help you diagnose and resolve the root cause issues during the process of obtaining a new job or position.
To simplify the complexity, we’ll use the funnel concept to illustrate the five basic steps associated with the candidate selection process. Regardless of any one company’s process, these steps will offer a solid foundation to better prepare for each of the general steps. When necessary, you will be able to diagnose and resolve potential problems with greater understanding and more effective results.
1. Resume Screening
For any given position posted online, employers generally see upwards of 100 resumes from candidates who are interested in that position. Each of the 100 resumes submitted will be reviewed for approximately 30 – 45 seconds. Out of those 100 resumes, the 12 to 15 that best capture the reader’s attention may get a second review of 2 to 3 minutes. Of those 12 to 15, as few as 5 to 10 candidates will be selected for the next step; typically phone screening.
2. Phone Screening
Of the remaining candidates, cursory phone screening will begin with an unannounced call. Often, the first phone screening lasts a few minutes and confirms you meet the basic requirements listed in the job posting, and perhaps clarifies a specific entry from your resume. The phone interview process typically narrows the field of candidates to 3 to 6 candidates. Those remaining candidates will be asked to come in for an on-site interview.
The 3 to 6 candidates out of 100 are now in contention for the 1 open position. Interviews are intended to examine and further narrow the number of candidates. Your timeliness, appearance, demeanor, interpersonal and communication skills will factor in greatly to your continued participation in the selection process. As the interview process concludes the field may be narrowed down to 3 or less candidates. Assuming all qualifications are equal, the 2 to 3 remaining candidates are asked for 3 to 5 job references. You will present your job references to the prospective employer in the form of a job reference list.
4. Reference Check
Given the scenario of all qualifications being equal among the remaining 2 to 3 candidates, it will be your job references that will make or break you. It is important to have your job references independently evaluated to know precisely how well they will perform during a reference check call from your prospective employer. The quality of your job reference has nothing to do with the quality of your relationship with this individual, but rather how effectively they can communicate your strengths, and instill confidence in the hiring manager that you are the right candidate for the job. Because you have a great shopping, golf or fishing partner, does not translate into being a good job reference for you.
5. Job Offer
A job offer is a result of several key elements working together. Your resume, your phone skills, your on-site interview skills, and if you make it this far; your job references. It is not uncommon for job references to be the tiebreaker among several equally qualified candidates all competing for a single open position.
In summary, getting calls for phone screening indicates your resume is doing its job. Getting invited in for an on-site interview indicates your phone skills are satisfactory. Being prompted to return for additional interviews is a result of good interviewing skills. Getting a job offer is generally a result of very high quality job references when all other qualifications are in order.
If you are having trouble at any step in this process, please contact us to schedule a simple evaluation and recommendation on how to most effectively address the problem. In today’s highly competitive job market you must have your resume and job references in order, and your phone and interview skills refined to see more positive results.