To Get Hired, You Must Use The Correct References

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

Who do you have listed as your references when you apply for a job? Did you know that using the wrong references can hurt your chances of getting the job? This seems like a pretty obvious statement, yet 62% of hiring managers who were recently surveyed in a study by CareerBuilder shared that “when they contacted a reference listed on an application, the reference didn’t have good things to say about the candidate.”

This statistic is startling. You should only list references who will give you a positive and glowing review. If you are not sure if a person will say positive things about you, don’t list them. This includes current and former bosses. Just because they are, or were, your boss doesn’t mean you need to list them as a reference. If you’re concerned that you need to have a reference from a previous employer, list one of the managers with whom you do have a positive relationship.

Another finding from the CareerBuilder study was that 15% of references didn’t know they were being listed as a reference. When you are creating your reference list, always ask the person if they would agree to be a reference for you. This isn’t just a courtesy; it gives your reference a “heads up” that you’ve applied for a job and that you listed them as a reference. If they are caught off-guard, they might stumble and bumble on the telephone and this could sound like they have something to hide. Instead, let them know to expect a call, let them know what position you applied for, and give them some talking points that could help to sell you.

Finally, too many job seekers don’t take the reference aspect of the job search as seriously as needed. They think that listing references is a formality and that the hiring manager won’t actually follow-up on the applicant’s references. But findings from this study showed that 80% of the employers do check on references, and that 69% of the hiring managers have changed their mind about an applicant after having interviewed the candidate’s references. So, when you are developing your reference list, only list people who will give you a positive reference and are able to really sell you. In other words, select your references wisely.

Remember, ultimately the job will go to the candidate who is best prepared and who effectively executes the basics of the job interview process. In all you do, you will want to EXECUTE FOR SUCCESS! For more on the basic fundamental skills needed for the job search process, check out my book Getting Hired in College Sports at


Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University. He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach. He is also an author of 9 books. Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at or his new book Execute for Success at


Helping You Get A Job In Sports

2nd edition Image

In Getting Hired In College Sports you will discover:

  • The types of jobs that exist in college sports
  • How to plan and navigate your career
  • How to create an effective job search campaign 
  • The proper way to create an effective resume, cover letter, and sales pitch
  • How to properly brand yourself
  • Techniques and strategies to prepare for your interview
  • How to properly prepare yourself for the five types of interview questions 
  • How to properly follow-up after the interview in order to influence the decision of the hiring manager

Only $23.95 Click Here To Purchase 

“I have recommended this book to many aspiring sports administrators.  A must read for anyone whom has a goal of working in athletic administration”

-Bill Fusco
Director of Athletics
Sonoma State University




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