How to Respond to Requests for Reference Checks

by Evil HR Lady on August 9, 2019


My company has a policy of only confirming job title and dates of employment when people call for reference checks. I know managers are giving out more information. How can I train managers to send all reference requests to human resources?

To read my answer, click here: How to Respond to Requests for Reference Checks

Leave your own in the comments!

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Just Me August 9, 2019 at 5:15 pm

This is certainly a tricky part of doing business. I would actually handle this a little differently. I’d tell managers that if an employee asked if they would give a “professional reference” and you feel comfortable doing so, you should give the reference. Otherwise all other requests should be treated as an “employment verification” and come to HR for dates, etc.

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Mr Sidestep August 9, 2019 at 6:30 pm

I’m an individual contributor. My references are all former managers or team leads who work (or now work) for other companies.

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Sarah Lindsey August 9, 2019 at 9:08 pm

Amen HR sister! This is the advice I give to clients (I add a recommendation to get a signed authorization to provide this information when an employee leaves the organization). I also tell them they cannot expect to hire employees with references and not give references in turn.

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MariaRose August 10, 2019 at 1:22 am

When an ex-employee puts a specific person down as a reference (usually with a pre-agreement) that specific person can make comments that positively describe the person’s job performance in that specific area. But when there’s no pre-agreement, all you can give is the basic answer of yes, they worked here for those time periods. They can’t give any details of the job performance, plus if requested for more specifics, they have to refer any other questions to HR. Doing this eliminates problems especially with a not-so-great employee who left the company for whatever reasons. Some employees don’t know exactly what is considered a job reference and will post even jobs they quit to show “job skill”. Plus when a supervisor gets mail from unemployment it should be sent directly to HR to handle the paperwork and avoid the hassle.

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grannybunny August 12, 2019 at 1:36 pm

Whenever possible, obtain letters of recommendation from those you wish to use as references, before leaving a job.

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Millennial Perspective August 13, 2019 at 6:58 pm

Pretty much no one accepts written recs anymore. There are a few industries that do, like academia, but most US private companies do not.

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grannybunny August 14, 2019 at 3:21 pm

That doesn’t mean that the company won’t be contacted for a reference, it simply means that you will have references that go far beyond the dates of service, job title, salary and rehire status to which company policy may limit reference checks.

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MtnLaurel August 13, 2019 at 8:43 pm

Even academia wants them less these days.

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