When an employer asks for your references, you put down the names of three people who pretty much think you walk on water. (And who you prep ahead of time, right?)
Employers know that. And they know that when they call the list of names you gave, they’re going to get glowing reviews.
Which is why, nowadays, they don’t stop there. Many hiring managers (especially at startups or for senior-level roles) now do a little something called a back-channel reference check.
Here’s how it goes: Say hiring manager Steve is considering making you an offer. Steve’s going to head over to your LinkedIn profile and see if you have any mutual connections. Steve’s going to ask a couple colleagues if they have any mutual connections. Steve’s going to hop over to Facebook, Twitter, and—if he’s really crafty—the email tool Conspire, and check each for even more mutual connections.
And then—without letting you know first—Steve’s going to reach out to these people, let them know he’s thinking about hiring you, and ask them for the real scoop.
Now, I’m not here to discuss whether this is fair or not (if you want to join in that conversation, you can do so here, here, and here), I’m here to make sure you, dear job seeker, know that this is taking place and help you have the best chances of success if it happens to you.
Consider this your new rulebook in the world of back-channel references.