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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, November 05, 2017 1:00 am

Communicate with your job references

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

Ask first.

Job candidates should always make sure colleagues, former supervisors or others they're using for references are OK with being a contact. It also helps to know – when possible – how and when that contact will be made.

Sounds pretty elementary, I know. But nearly every time I've had a position to fill, I wonder about the communication between job candidates and their references.

On numerous occasions, it has taken multiple attempts to reach a reference. Sometimes we play phone tag, which isn't much fun, so I usually suggest potential times to connect by phone. If those aren't convenient for the reference, I ask if they would suggest options more suitable to their schedule.

Connections sometimes are still difficult. Yet it's hard to imagine why anyone, even with a busy schedule, would agree to be a reference and then not be responsive to queries from an organization that might eventually want to consider hiring the individual they agreed to vouch for.

I once had a reference call back – on a Saturday – to say her employer's policy significantly limits what managers can say. Those sorts of restrictions are not unheard of and, although challenging, certainly understandable. But the good thing is she at least called back – promptly.

It's also interesting when job candidates submit materials to be considered for a position – using email – but then it takes days for them to respond to email queries or updates on the recruiting interviewing process.

The delays can quickly move a potential candidate further down on the list for consideration. It suggests they may not be on top of communication – or other skills such as organization. But it may mean they are also juggling multiple potential employers. That's common and you certainly can't blame them. But transparency is always good. Sometimes I'll ask if they are weighing other offers.

Just as job candidates like to know where they stand, so do companies with positions to fill.

Talent Impact, an email newsletter from Human Capital Media, in late October referenced a white paper on onboarding that suggested many employers don't live up to the expectations of job seekers. The candidate experience for most applicants has become far less personal, with “an alarming 47 percent” of applicants never receiving any communication after submitting resumes. I'm sure that's especially true when managers are overwhelmed with resumes and other regular responsibilities.

The recruiting and hiring process can be quite time-consuming. For job candidates, it can be an emotional roller coaster. Good communication goes a long way to make the process less bumpy.

To share a thought, a favorite quote or other wisdom about leadership, email Lisa Green at Lead On also appears as a column in The Journal Gazette's Sunday Business section.