In many cases, the references you list on a job application or a resume may be the key to landing the job you want. Most of us drag out our standard list of references, add them in and call it good. This strategy however will only work if your references can actually be reached.
If a potential employer calls your references, only to be met with disconnected numbers, hazy memories or references who are no longer with the company, this can reflect poorly on you. It is essential to take a few minutes before you begin your job search in earnest to make sure your references haven’t gone missing in action.
The first step is to call your old references and double check phone numbers, employment status and whether or not they still remember working with you. If it’s been several years, it’s a good idea to reconnect with each reference either on the phone, or in person, to refresh their memory about you and your past performance.
If you find that your old references are no longer in the same position, you’ll need to do a little leg work to track them down. Ask if it is known where they work now, and connect with them at their new place of work. Make sure you get updated phone numbers, particularly if you are using their personal or cell phone numbers as these can change frequently.
In the event that you cannot reconnect with an old reference, it’s time to move to Plan B. Develop a new set of references by asking past co-workers or managers if they would be willing to give you an employment reference. Verify all of their information and if possible, get written letters of recommendation that you can include with your resume and application.
You owe it to yourself to take the time to make sure your references aren’t MIA.