Reference checks are becoming common practice in Vietnam, but some applicants are not sure what is involved. We take a moment to look at the process and advise you how to prepare for a reference check.

What is a reference check?

A reference check occurs when a potential employer contacts your previous employer or other source to cross-check information you have provided during an application process. It’s also an opportunity for the potential employer to learn more about your work history and your attitude.

Usually you will be asked to provide the name of up to three relevant references during an application process. These people are also known as “referees”. This is standard practice for international companies when they look to hire new staff. The company may then contact one or more of the references you have provided.

Who should you name as a reference?

You should always be selective with you list as a reference. It’s important that each reference knows about your working skills and behaviors, and will speak positively about you.

You should try to provide professional references if possible. These should be people who were a previous manager or a colleague. They should know about what you are like to work with. Of course, it can be difficult to provide professional references early in your career. You might consider naming a teacher or a mentor if you really have difficulty naming a professional reference.

Note that you do not need to name your references in your CV. While it is better for future employers if this information is provided in advance, it may not be advantageous for you. For example, you may apply for many jobs at the same time and the employers may contact the referees without providing notice to you. Therefore, in order for you to prepare better and to not disturb the referees, you might choose to state “references are available upon request”. This is perfectly acceptable.

What will be asked during a reference check?

A future employer might ask a range of questions to your referee.

  • Why did you leave your previous company, or why would you be seeking this new opportunity?
  • How was the person’s experience working with you?
  • Were there any issues working with you?
  • If they could, would this person hire you again?

The future employer might ask a range of others questions and may also look to confirm details that you mentioned during the selection process. These questions are asked to see if you are suitable for the role you are applying for and if you have told the truth during the selection process.

How can you improve your chances of a good reference?

Several tips can help you ensure you have suitable references ready for a job application.

Firstly. always end a job on a good note. Sometimes conflict may happen at work, but you should manage any conflict with maturity and a long-term view. If you’re leaving because you are unhappy, you should explain the situation suitably to your current employer, give them enough notice period, complete a proper work handover and be ready to support them if needed. Do not speak negatively or gossip as you leave, as it can make it very difficult to receive a positive reference.

Secondly, you should keep in touch with your ex-employers and colleagues. It might takes time and energy, but once in awhile, leave them a message, go out with them or act on a reminder and send them a “happy birthday”. One day, you’re likely to need their help and it helps if they remember who you are.

Thirdly, you should speak with your references before providing their details for a reference check. You should ask for their permission to be your reference. You should tell them a bit about your next job and the company it is for. If you know in advance, let them know when they will be contacted. Some people may not know what a reference check is, so you might also explain what is involved. You should never tell them to lie, but you could show them how important this job is to you so they could be a prepared for the call.

Finally, follow up with your references and thank them. It doesn’t matter if you land the job or not, you should always follow up and thank your references because they took their time to do you a favor.

Good luck!

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