Executives Call Average of Three References During Hiring Process, Survey Shows

MENLO PARK, CA -- Job seekers take note: Executives today are looking for a few good words when making hiring decisions, according to a recent survey. Senior managers polled said they typically speak with at least three references before considering someone for a position, confirming the value of a third-party endorsement.

Accountemps, the world's first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals, developed the survey. It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 150 executives with the nation's 1,000 largest companies.

Executives were asked, "When conducting a reference check, on average, how many references do you call?" Their responses:

One 3%
Two 18%
Three 62%
More than three 8%
None 4%
Don't know 5%

"Job seekers often overlook an essential step in the interview process -- managing references," said Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps and author of Job Hunting For Dummies,® 2nd Edition (Hungry Minds, Inc.). "To avoid hiring mistakes, companies want to learn as much as possible about applicants before extending an offer. Candidates can increase their chances of being hired by providing the names of people who will offer an accurate account of their skills and experience."

Following are tips for candidates on preparing references:

  • Stack the deck. Develop a list of three to five references. Describe their connection to you (e.g., former boss) and the type of information each can provide.
  • Get permission. Never use a person's name without his or her consent.
  • Choose wisely. Some references may be more relevant for a position than others.
  • Provide references with a copy of the job description and your resume. They can put their responses into context if they know the types of positions you are seeking.
  • Refresh their memories. To help a reference recollect your strengths, discuss examples of the accomplishments you made while you both worked together.
  • Keep them in the loop. As soon as you refer someone, let that person know he or she may receive a call. Follow up with a thank-you note and a status update on your job search.

Accountemps has more than 320 offices throughout North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and offers online job search services at www.accountemps.com.

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