THE FINAL HURDLE: SEVEN TIPS FOR TOP REFERENCES
By Michelle Straka
In Canada, the reference check is the final stage in the interviewing process. Typically, when the hiring manager makes a preliminary decision to hire you he or she will then check your references. Since it is therefore so important, be sure to prepare a reference list with care.
After spending time and effort obtaining requisite work papers or visas, arranging relocation and searching for employment, it is important not to underestimate the importance of arranging for references that can give potential Canadian employers an idea of your work skills and commitment. References play two very important roles in the job search process. They can strengthen your candidacy for a position, and they assure the hiring manager that you are the right person to hire.
Here are seven tips on how to make your references as strong as possible:
1. Canadian employers require references of a professional nature, specifically from previous employers. Canadian references are preferred, but most employers are mindful of the fact that as a newcomer to the country, you may not have any. Prepare a list of references from your previous employers, including names and employment titles, telephone numbers (with country and area codes) and email addresses.
2. Potential employers may ask for references at any point in the interviewing process, so ensure that you have multiple copies of your references list with you during every interview.
3. Canadians are not, by nature, impressed by status, so your references should be strictly professional; previous managers or supervisors are preferred. It is not necessary to include references of a specific social or economic stature. Personal references should only be used as a supplement and should never take the place of a professional reference.
4. Most Canadian employers prefer to speak with referees over the telephone, rather than receiving reference letters, as such letters are subject to tampering and may be easily falsified.
5. Know your rights: privacy legislation in Canada restricts employers from taking the liberty of contacting referees without your approval.
6. In Canada, the information provided in references is confidential. Do not attempt to find out from the hiring manager or recruiter what the referee has said about you.
7. Most importantly, never under-estimate the importance of an exceptional reference. It can make or break your job search!
Michelle Straka is a professional Recruiting and Human Resources Consultant. She began her career with RWH International in 1998, providing job search and immigration consultation services to residents of Canada, U.S., South Africa, the United Kingdom, the Middle East and more. She has broad experience assisting clients from all over the world on the many issues regarding relocation to Canada and the U.S., including employment searches. She joined DGA Careers in September 2000 as a Senior Recruiting Consultant, recruiting entry- to executive-level professionals across Canada. She also administers the insurance-specific recruiting websites Insuranceworks.ca and Insuranceworks.com, servicing Canada and the U.S. respectively. She can be reached at