How to Handle Job References for Employers

These days I’m on both sides of the job fence. As a business owner I\’m in the position to hire, and as a freelancer, I\’m always looking for the next job. I’m not really sure which one is easier, but I do know that job references are always important.

In the entertainment industry approximately 80% of all jobs are filled through referrals. That’s the reason it seems like you have to know someone to get a job, but the truth is, you really do. Payroll is one of the most costly things a business owner has to contend with and you have to make sure you get it right. That’s why job references are so important.

Here are some things to consider when it comes to your own references:

  • Always ask if you can use someone\’s name – You want the most enthusiastic references you can find and they should all be genuine. By calling a reference beforehand you can get an idea about where they stand. They might not be as enthusiastic about you as you think they are, for whatever reason. Or they might be in the middle of their own personal crisis and not up to jumping for joy to help you out. If you don\’t get that warm and fuzzy feeling from them you need, don\’t add them to your list.
  • Choose the right mix of references – Don\’t just put down your previous boss, pick a mixture of different people in different job titles. Sometimes a co-worker can explain a side of your personality that a boss would never see. A community leader with klout or someone with a high profile who could vouch for you might be a good choice.
  • Be prepared – Give your reference a copy of your resume and a list of possible questions that might be asked. Let them know the job you\’re applying for and the person who will be calling. Make sure your previous experience matches up with the job you\’re applying for.

What has been your experience with job references?



Job Interview Tips – Body Language

  • Avoid fidgeting – Fidgeting might be a harmless habit unless you\’re in a job interview. Adjusting your tie, playing with your hair, or tapping a pen can be seen by an employer as the traits of an impatient person and can also be seen as being insecure. The best way to avoid it is to be in the moment and be aware of it. Have something else to do with your hands like keeping them firmly in your lap, while occasionally gesturing.
  • Improve your posture – Good posture shows you are confident and sure of yourself. Slouching in your chair can come across as either lazy or too aggressive. It also shows a disrespect for the interviewer and will make you seem like you aren\’t interested in the job. Practice improving your posture and being very aware of it in an interview. If you\’re really interested in the job you will probably naturally straighten up and pay more attention. If you want to make an even better impression, lean in slightly and show enthusiasm for the job.
  • Don\’t invade someone\’s personal space – This one always kind of surprises me, because I would think it would come naturally. But I saw it all the time in job fairs. Sometimes job seekers would get unnaturally close to the recruiters and I could tell they weren\’t comfortable with it. A good rule of thumb is to keep the same distance you would if you extended your hand for a handshake. Wait for their signals instead of jumping in ahead of them. Let them do the leading.
  • Keep your arms uncrossed – This can be seen as a sign of hostility or negativity. I\’ve been accused of doing this myself, even though I don\’t mean it to be a sign of hostility or negativity. Again, be aware if you do it and catch yourself. Have something else to do with your hands, like resting them on a notepad in your lap. Just don\’t tap your pen on it.
  • Mirror their behavior – This is a beginning exercise that\’s used by actors. But it has to be done very subtly so the interviewer doesn\’t catch on. Especially make sure you match their tone. If they\’re serious in tone, don\’t crack jokes. Just naturally fall into their rhythm and it will seem like you are both on the same page.
  • If you really want to improve your body language, tape yourself in some mock interviews with a friend. Play it back and you might be surprised how often you make body language mistakes. Keep practicing until it becomes normal and then try it out on job interviews you don\’t really want. Then when you get to your dream job interview you should have your job search body language perfected.      

    Why Didn’t HR Call Me Back?

    Out in the dating world it’s a common complaint. “Why didn’t he or she call back?” But the same thing happens in the job market, as job seekers are left wondering “Why didn’t HR call me back?”. The interview went well, you think they liked you, but then you never hear from them again. It’s hard not to take it personally.

    This problem has always existed, but it’s even worse now with so many people out of work and for much longer periods of time. Here are a few reasons they may not be calling back:

    • They are overwhelmed – One reason they may not be calling back could be that HR departments are completely overwhelmed right now. Many of them are barely able to handle the applicants and interviews they have, and they just don’t have the time to respond to everyone that applies. It should be up to you to follow up. Start with a personal, hand written thank you note and follow up a couple of weeks later with a quick email. If you don’t hear back after that you can probably guess that they have either found someone else or decided to delay filling the position.
    • Position was eliminated – With the way things are changing so quickly these days, they may have even eliminated the position. It’s also a possibility that their position was eliminated or they were moved into another department or transferred.
    • Your contact information was wrong – It’s also possible that you had the wrong email or phone number on your resume. A couple of times I have looked for someone’s resume because I wanted to contact them and the email or phone number was wrong. That’s why it’s especially important to follow up so there is no way they won\’t have your info right there and handy.

    Whatever the case, to the job seeker, who is putting in so much time and energy into finding a job, a quick email would at least let them know that the job is no longer open and they can move on to something else. It’s up to you not to wait too long for that to happen. Keep moving, and eventually the numbers game will be in your favor.

    Are You a Job Hopper?

    If you\’ve sent out tons of resumes and haven\’t heard back from any of them, maybe it\’s because they consider you a job hopper. When you have hundreds or thousands of resumes to sort through, one thing that stands out is the fact that you\’ve had way too many jobs in too short of a period of time. Employers call these people \”job hoppers\”, and it doesn\’t look good in their eyes.

    As someone who has been on the hiring end of things in start-up companies, I can tell you that it\’s even more important to make sure you get the right employees from the start. Hiring and training employees is one of the biggest expenses we have. Hiring the wrong person can be a costly mistake.

    Job hoppers come in all ages, but is even more common in those under 30. When you just get out of college and still don\’t really know what direction you want to go in, that\’s one thing. But too much beyond that and it doesn\’t look good to the person hiring you that you\’ve had 7 jobs in the past few years.

    Of course, there are all kinds of reasons why someone would have a series of jobs before the age of 30, or at any age for that matter. But unless you are able to explain the situation to an employer or recruiter face to face you may not ever get that far in the hiring process. If you do have a face to face meeting be honest about your job hopping.

    If you really want to settle down with a job and believe this company is going to be right for you, let the hiring person know that. Explain your job hopping resume before it gets tossed in the trash.