Do Jobs & Employers Actually Call References?

By Hannah Morgan | Career Sherpa - Reprinted with permission

Many people wonder if jobs and employers actually call references often, or if it's something they only do on occasion. And this doubt makes them unsure if they should spend time on providing excellent references, or if it makes more sense to focus on applying to more positions. This post will help you understand the likelihood of an employer calling your references, and if that means they're interested in hiring you or not. Do Employers Actually Call References? With hiring processes becoming increasingly automated, many job-seekers wonder if potential employers even call anyone on their list of references. Most applications require you to provide at least one reference, but will they actually receive a call? While hiring managers and human resources departments will occasionally refrain from contacting references, most of the time they will. That means it's still important to provide reliable references who can speak to your character and work ethic. Recent surveys showed that most (...... Read more

Get VA to cover the cost of your degree with these scholarship programs

By VA Careers | U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs © 2024, Reprinted with permission

We know the cost of your education can be stressful, which is why VA offers a number of different scholarship programs to help you pay for school and pave the way to a successful, meaningful career serving Veterans. Two of those programs have rapidly approaching deadlines, so if you're an aspiring clinician or mental health professional, now is your chance to take advantage of these scholarships. The Health Professionals Scholarship Program (HPSP) offers scholarships to those becoming clinicians (e.g., physicians, nurses, pharmacists, etc.). Through this quickly growing program, thousands of students have received scholarships and monthly living stipends. In turn, you'll agree to work at a VA facility for a minimum of two years.... Read more

Creating a Network from Scratch

By Hannah Morgan | Career Sherpa - Reprinted with permission

If you are new to job search and you are turned off by hearing you should network, you should know this. You have been networking all along, but you just didn't call it that. Take the focus off of job search and you'll feel better about "networking". The Harvard Business Review wrote this piece on how leaders create networks. "How Leaders Create and Use Networks". The article defines networking as: "creating a fabric of personal contacts who will provide support, feedback, insight, resources, and information..." You need support, feedback, insight, resources and information, right? While your first instinct is to ask about open jobs, reframe your conversations to seek out these other things. The idea behind this brief is that there are 3 different types of networks:... Read more

Protect yourself this tax season: Tips for Veterans to avoid scams

By IRS and VA's Veteran Scam and Fraud Evasion team | U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs © 2024, Reprinted with permission

Tax season is upon us, and while it's a time for many to diligently manage their finances, it's also a period when scams and fraudsters are on the prowl, targeting unsuspecting individuals, including Veterans and their families. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), taxpayers lose millions of dollars each year due to tax-related scams and schemes, making it crucial for everyone—especially Veterans—to stay vigilant and informed to avoid falling victim to these fraudulent activities. Understanding the threat. Tax frauds and scams come in various forms, from abusive tax providers defrauding clients to schemes involving fraudulent entities and impersonation of IRS officials. Veterans and their families are particularly vulnerable targets, with scammers often exploiting their personal information and circumstances... Read more

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Do Jobs & Employers Actually Call References?

By Hannah Morgan | Career Sherpa - Reprinted with permission

Many people wonder if jobs and employers actually call references often, or if it's something they only do on occasion. And this doubt makes them unsure if they should spend time on providing excellent references, or if it makes more sense to focus on applying to more positions.

This post will help you understand the likelihood of an employer calling your references, and if that means they're interested in hiring you or not.

Do Employers Actually Call References?

With hiring processes becoming increasingly automated, many job-seekers wonder if potential employers even call anyone on their list of references. Most applications require you to provide at least one reference, but will they actually receive a call?

While hiring managers and human resources departments will occasionally refrain from contacting references, most of the time they will. That means it's still important to provide reliable references who can speak to your character and work ethic. Recent surveys showed that most (over 85 percent) of employers contact references at some point in the hiring process.

But when potential employers decide to contact your references will vary.

In many cases, employers make calls early in the hiring process. It's often part of the early screening process where decision-makers start weeding out candidates to narrow their choices. They may contact references for applicants who pique their interest or those with all the qualifications necessary for the job.

In these scenarios, calls help hiring managers determine if you're worthy of moving further in the hiring process.

Some employers do things differently, reserving reference calls for much later in the hiring process. It's ultimately all a matter of preference and approach. These hiring managers may rely solely on your resume and interview skills to determine whether you're a good candidate. Once they narrow the pool of candidates down to a handful of top choices, they'll contact references to get outside perspectives about a potential employee's potential. This approach saves time for the hiring manager, allowing them to make only a handful of calls versus hundreds.

Those are the two most common scenarios. However, some employers may not contact references at all. Although these situations are rare, hiring managers could decide you're a great candidate without the perspective of references.

Either way, it's important to provide a list of references who can speak highly of you. Be sure to tell your references what type of job you are applying for and what you want them to emphasize when contacted. Hiring managers still value that information, whether they call your references during the hiring process or not. And some companies may call past references later if you're ever in the running for a promotion.

Do Employers Check References If They Aren't Going to Hire You?

Many employers will contact your references before extending a job offer. As mentioned earlier, many will contact references to fact-check and learn more about your qualifications once they narrow down the pool of potential hires.

It's a good sign when employers reach out to references. However, there are no guarantees! Don't take it as a sure thing that you'll get hired.

Speaking with references is just part of the hiring process and can occur at any point. There's no defined approach. Human resources professionals develop their methods for learning about potential hires, which may or may not include discussions with your references.

Furthermore, some contact references far earlier, while others wait until they have a good idea of your potential for success in the role.

You can get excited if you hear back from your references that a hiring manager contacted them. However, that's no reason to rest on your laurels, halt your job search, or leave your current job. The only way to know you're getting the job is to hear it from a potential employer.

Situations When Employers Are Most Likely to Call References

There are many reasons why an employer could contact your references. The people you include on your application are another resource hiring managers will use to learn about you. It's akin to your resume and list of qualifications.

Like other resources, the employer will choose when and how to utilize your references.

One of the most common situations when human resources perform a reference check is during the initial hiring process. This usually happens after your first interviews. It's when employers complete their due diligence to ensure you're the right person for the job.

Pre-employment screening occurs before companies extend a job offer. There may be a few other candidates in the running, and this process helps employers make their final decision. Screening involves many steps, including checking your qualifications, performing background reviews, security clearances, etc.

Contacting your references allows an employer to cover their bases and identify any last-minute issues that may give them reason to consider someone else.

Another situation when employers contact references is during early applicant review. Depending on the job, hiring managers may receive hundreds of applications that they need to narrow down to a much more manageable number before starting interviews.

In this situation, contacting references is more about identifying what sets you apart from other applicants. Your resume and qualifications may meet the mark on paper. However, the same likely applies to several others in the candidate pool.

Employers can reach out to references to learn more about you and obtain additional information that may differentiate you from others. Those conversations can shed more light on your capabilities and help employers understand what sets you apart.

Human resources may also contact references long after you get a job. While references are most often utilized during the hiring process, those contacts are valuable in various situations.

While employers will learn a lot about you during the hiring process, some aspects of your potential in this role won't become apparent until after you start working. Employers might contact references for more insight.

For example, you might struggle with a specific skill or display a point of concern that makes hiring managers question if you're the perfect fit. In those cases, employers may call references to help clear things up. They might also speak with past employers to see if these issues are one-off things or recurring problems.

Questions Your References Will Often Be Asked

When one of your references is called by a potential job, there are many different questions that they might be asked. Usually, the conversations they have will vary based on your relationship with each individual reference. For example, the questions they ask a former employer will differ greatly from those they ask a former colleague or educator.

Generally, questions will fall under one of several categories.

The first are those focused on detailed verification. Human resources may question one or more aspects of your resume. They don't necessarily doubt your honesty but might need clarification about a former job, certification, dates of employment, or reason for leaving .

Contacting references is a great way to learn more. So, they'll contact the person with the most familiarity with your resume.

Questions can also revolve around specific qualifications and skills. Employers call references to learn about what you bring to the table. Speaking with a reference about your past experiences will provide valuable insight into how those qualifications might translate into the open position.

Hiring managers can also ask questions about soft skills and intangible qualities. Finding the perfect candidate involves more than finding someone with all the right skills and education. You must also fit the company's culture, know how to work with others, etc.

One of the best ways to learn about those qualities and characteristics is to speak with references who've seen you in action. Employers might ask about how you are in the office, what you're like in a team environment and more. Many will also ask about situational habits and other details they won't learn from your resume.

Former employers will often receive more focused questions. Hiring managers typically ask about your performance in your past jobs, honing in on relevant skills that apply to the new role. It's also common for employers to ask previous employers about how and why you left.

Will Every One of Your References Be Called?

Companies can ask for multiple references. In fact, most employers will require you to provide one to three during your initial application.

Will they contact all of them? In many cases, they won't. However, that all depends on the types of references you provide and what information employers want to learn.

There are no defined rules about employers calling references, and a hiring manager's approach can vary from one application to the next. It's common for at least one to be contacted. In most cases, they'll choose the reference with the most information to give, such as a former employer.

They might reach out to another if they want to learn more or can't get all the information they're after from a single reference. But it's rare for employers to call each one. Therefore, selecting high-quality references who can speak well of your potential, performance and qualifications is important.

Conclusion

As you can see, employers often call at least one of the references you provide. The biggest variable is when in the hiring process they decide to do it!

That's why it's so important to provide great references when applying for jobs. Nothing can sell your skills as well as positive feedback from others!

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Get VA to cover the cost of your degree with these scholarship programs

By VA Careers | U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs © 2024, Reprinted with permission

We know the cost of your education can be stressful, which is why VA offers a number of different scholarship programs to help you pay for school and pave the way to a successful, meaningful career serving Veterans.

Two of those programs have rapidly approaching deadlines, so if you're an aspiring clinician or mental health professional, now is your chance to take advantage of these scholarships.

The Health Professionals Scholarship Program (HPSP) offers scholarships to those becoming clinicians (e.g., physicians, nurses, pharmacists, etc.). Through this quickly growing program, thousands of students have received scholarships and monthly living stipends. In turn, you'll agree to work at a VA facility for a minimum of two years.

The Vet Center Scholarship Program offers similar scholarships to HPSP, but with a focus on mental health careers (e.g., social workers, psychologists, counselors, etc.). You'll still receive a monthly living stipend, though your commitment to VA will be six years working at one of 300 Vet Centers across the country.

The stipends for these programs were increased to $1,300 this year, making an even bigger impact for health professionals who want to do mission-oriented work.

Work at VA

Apply now for these scholarship programs through VA and you'll have one less thing to worry about when you graduate. Learn more about these programs, and how they can make a positive impact on your future, at VA Careers.

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Creating a Network from Scratch

By Hannah Morgan | Career Sherpa - Reprinted with permission

If you are new to job search and you are turned off by hearing you should network, you should know this.

You have been networking all along, but you just didn't call it that. Take the focus off of job search and you'll feel better about "networking".

The Harvard Business Review wrote this piece on how leaders create networks. "How Leaders Create and Use Networks".

The article defines networking as: "creating a fabric of personal contacts who will provide support, feedback, insight, resources, and information..."

You need support, feedback, insight, resources and information, right? While your first instinct is to ask about open jobs, reframe your conversations to seek out these other things.

The idea behind this brief is that there are 3 different types of networks:

  • Personal: people outside of your company who can assist in your professional development
  • Operations: those you need to complete tasks or accomplish work
  • Strategic: people who can help you reach company goals/objectives

I love this idea because it provides a structure and plan for moving forward. Instead of meeting all kinds of people with no purpose or reason, you know why you want to meet someone. This fosters a lifetime commitment to networking.

For active job seekers, you'll want to make a list of people from these parts of your life. Read more about the 10 types of people to network with.

Diversify Your Networking Strategy

Information can come from many different sources. I strongly recommend beginning the outreach process with those people you know best. They already know you, are more empathetic, and most importantly, more willing to help.

Once you have started reaching out to people in your network, it's time to expand the people you know and whom you can ask for information, resources, and insight.

Look for these opportunities to expand and grow your network:

  • Attend industry events, conferences, and meetups
  • Use online platforms (LinkedIn, X/Twitter, professional forums)
  • Join professional organizations or clubs
  • Informational interviews and coffee meetings (with alumni, past colleagues, etc.)
  • Stay in touch with former colleagues and classmates
  • Volunteer or get involved in community projects

Network The Right Way

There is a right way to network without feeling yucky or like a used car salesperson. Focus on learning about the other person first! You can do this by knowing what you want to learn about them and what you can learn from them.

Ask Questions. Be curious.
  • When reconnecting with people you know, ask about their life, what's new, how their family is doing — make it personal.
  • When reaching out to a professional contact (someone you used to work with), you can still ask what's new in a professional way.
  • And when meeting someone new, you can ask what they do, what brought them to this event, why they like working for the company, or any question that helps you get to know them better.

You don't need to start the conversation with your job search woes. But you do need to have a response when asked "So what do you do." You can see some responses here.

You will also want to have some questions prepared or top of mind to get the conversation flowing so you can acquire advice, information, or recommendations. Check this list of questions to help you have a productive networking conversation.

Follow Up and Stay In Touch

First things first. If someone has given you their time, thank them. Additionally, you may acquire helpful information. Be sure to let the individual know you appreciate their help.

But don't stop there. One of the hardest parts of networking is staying in touch. Some people use their calendars to set a "touch base" date. This depends on the person and your relationship with them. A good rule of thumb is to touch base monthly with key people in your network while you are actively job seeking. If you are networking for your career development, you may reconnect with key people in your network every six months.

Offer Value and Be Helpful

One of the things you should be listening for is the opportunity to help the person you are speaking with. This will be based on your conversation. You may be able to offer solutions to a problem they are experiencing, or you may be able to introduce them to someone they should know. It could even be letting them know about a newsletter or event you think they would benefit from.

If you can't think of anything, you can always end your conversation with

"Thank you so much for your time today. I've learned a lot. Is there anything I can do to help you today?"

You are never really building a network from scratch. You have one, you just need to understand how to tap into the power of people you already know. Start by identifying people you already know and strategically reach out and ask for advice, information or recommendations!

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Protect yourself this tax season: Tips for Veterans to avoid scams

By IRS and VA's Veteran Scam and Fraud Evasion team | U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs © 2024, Reprinted with permission

Tax season is upon us, and while it's a time for many to diligently manage their finances, it's also a period when scams and fraudsters are on the prowl, targeting unsuspecting individuals, including Veterans and their families. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), taxpayers lose millions of dollars each year due to tax-related scams and schemes, making it crucial for everyone—especially Veterans—to stay vigilant and informed to avoid falling victim to these fraudulent activities.

Understanding the threat

Tax frauds and scams come in various forms, from abusive tax providers defrauding clients to schemes involving fraudulent entities and impersonation of IRS officials. Veterans and their families are particularly vulnerable targets, with scammers often exploiting their personal information and circumstances. It's essential to recognize common tactics used by fraudsters, such as sending fake emails or making threatening phone calls, especially during tax season.

Know your benefits

One crucial aspect for Veterans to remember is that VA benefits are tax-free, and there is no federal income tax on VA insurance proceeds. Additionally, Veterans with a service-connected disability rating may be eligible for local property tax exemptions. Understanding these benefits can help Veterans differentiate between legitimate communication from the IRS and potential scams.

Utilize identity protection tools

The IRS has introduced Identity Protection (IP) PINs as an extra layer of security to combat tax-related identity theft. By enrolling in the IP PIN program, taxpayers receive a unique six-digit number to verify their identity when filing their federal tax returns. This not only helps prevent identity theft but also provides added protection for those who have been victims of tax-related fraud in the past. Taxpayers can request an IP PIN annually through the Get an IP PIN tool by verifying their identity.

Before applying for an IP PIN, review the following information:

  • This is a voluntary program.
  • Taxpayers must pass an identity verification process.
  • Spouses and dependents are eligible for an IP PIN if they can verify their identities.
  • An IP PIN is valid for one calendar year.
  • Taxpayers must obtain a new IP PIN each filing season.
  • Correct IP PINs must be entered on electronic and paper tax returns to avoid rejections and delays.

Stay vigilant

While IP PINs offer increased security, it's essential for participants to remain vigilant against scams.

  • The IRS will never email, text or call taxpayers for their IP PIN.
  • Taxpayers should only share their IP PIN with their trusted tax provider for tax return purposes.
  • Taxpayers can report tax-related illegal activities, including IRS-related phishing attempts and fraud, to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.

Additional resources

For Veterans and their families seeking further guidance on protecting themselves during tax season, there are several resources available, including:

  • Internal Revenue Service's Information for Veterans page
  • Internal Revenue Service's Military Information page
  • IRS Free File tool
  • MilTax (free tax software and support)
  • IRS Reminds Taxpayers: Choose a Tax Professional Carefully
  • Tax Scams: How to Report Them

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