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How Your Choice of Resume References Can Ruin Your Chances
Tuesday, January 15, 2013

When we see champions like Lance Armstrong lose it all with allegations (and subsequent confession) of cheating, it reminds us that no one is immune to the effects of wanting success. People will do just about anything to come out on top.

Job searching is very much a high-pressure competition where competitors can succumb to the temptation of taking dishonest measures. We've all heard that it's all about who you know and for some who don't, they try to fake it to make it.

It's easy to assume that as long as everything else on your resume checks out that there would be no reason to question a minute detail which in reality be more decorative than accurate. When providing any kind of information to the employer, always assume that it's going to be verified.

A recent survey by CareerBuilder found that 30 percent of the 2,500 hiring managers surveyed regularly discover misleading or false references. For whatever reason, some applicants believe that the hiring manager won't think twice if one out of the three references provided doesn't work out.

The fact of the matter is, unless they can be 100 percent sure that what they've seen from the start is what they're getting, hiring managers aren't going to take the risk of finding out later. Taking on a new hire is an investment that they don't take lightly. In fact, hiring managers will often check the references before setting up an interview.

The most common reason why applicants might stretch the truth about a reference on their resume is the title that person holds. They think that someone who holds more influence in the company as a whole will make a bigger impression on the hiring manager. This can actually arouse the hiring manager's interest in verifying this reference. References should always be people that your worked closely with, preferably a mix of peers and superiors. Anyone else and you may be compromising your professional credibility.

Make sure that, unless you know without a doubt that the person will speak highly of you, to get the green light from those that you include on that list. It's not uncommon for some candidates to include the name of a person they have never met and be caught in an awkward situation when the hiring manager puts in a phone call. On the other side of that, avoid listing people, such as friends and family,who cannot vouch for you as a colleague.

The kind of resume that usually makes the biggest impression on a hiring manager is one that doesn't have to try. It just does. Attempting to pull of an impressive reference list that isn't honest is career sabotage. The recipe to a winning resume doesn't require fancy references, just one key ingredient: truth.