Q: I've worked several jobs since separating from the Army. Some have been contracting positions, others as an exempt employee. Some have been with high-profile international companies. Not once have any of my previous employers or references been contacted. Do references really matter anymore? It seems to me they are even less important than cover letters and the objective statement in resumes.
A: You would be mistaken to think that references hold little weight, especially in the current depressed job market. "References absolutely matter," says Paul W. Barada, president of Barada Associates Inc. The Rushville, Ind.,-based firm provides pre-employment screening services for large employers such as Emmis Communications Corp. and Acorda Therapeutics Inc.
Some people who are out of work embellish their past job performance, credentials and academic achievements to gain an edge over the competition, Mr. Barada says.
With applicant pools growing larger by the day, it would be good to assume that employers will be diligently contacting references. "In my experience, references are always being checked," says Dena Sneider, a career consultant in the San Francisco Bay Area. "In this market, they will certainly be checked since employers have their pick of candidates."
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