If an employer is checking your references, does it mean you got the job? Not necessarily.
Does it mean you are the only one they are considering? No. Although you might be.
Does it mean they are close to making an offer? Maybe.
So what exactly does checking your references mean?
Basically, all you can know for sure is that it means the company is interested in you. And they want to know more about how others see you — especially former employers / bosses / supervisors.
Usually, when a company starts checking your references, if the references are good you will get an offer. But there are times when they have more than one candidate that they are strongly considering.
So they are using the references to help them decide. And you might not be their final choice. But you could be.
Why you might not get the job after all
Well, they may not like what they hear from the references. Or they may not get enough information to resolve any doubts they have. And so they could offer it to someone else. Or decide to continue advertising and / or interviewing without turning you down yet.
Then again, they may get glowing reviews and still wind up going with someone else for any number of reasons. These are things you cannot control. Things that go on behind the scenes.
And they don’t reflect on your value to another employer. Or even your potential value to that company, as awful as it feels to be rejected. (One reason to write a polite thank you note. And stay in touch just in case.)
But usually checking your references means…
Usually, if a company has reached the point of checking your references and your references are good, it probably means that you will be getting an offer soon. Most employers lean toward not wanting to hurt your chances. And even helping if they can.
Exceptions to that could be that the situation ended on a really sour note. Or you did something truly illegal. But even then, employers watch carefully what they say during reference checks so as not to be sued.
Still, odds are that having your references checked will soon bring some happy news. I hope that’s the case for you.
EXTRA: About Those References
[Post updated 2020]
About the author…
Ronnie Ann, founder of Work To the Wise and Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development, as well as her many adventures as a serial job seeker.
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