sharing a referral bonus with a friend, do I really have to wear this company shirt, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Being asked to provide references with your initial application

I’m job-searching right now, and I’ve noticed that there are a fair amount of jobs that ask for contact information for references up front – not even only in applications systems, but even just attached to your cover letter and resume.

Doing so makes me uncomfortable, though I can’t quite articulate why – I know that they’re very unlikely to call the references before speaking with me, because it simply wouldn’t make sense, but it just feels awkward and uncomfortable. Is there any graceful way to say “I’ll give them to you if you interview me” without it completely eliminating me from consideration, or do I just need to suck it up and decide whether this is a hill I want to die on?

You’re right to feel uncomfortable with it, since you don’t want your references being contacted before you’ve decided if it’s a job you’re even interested in, which you can’t know for sure until you’ve had a chance to talk with the employer and learn more. And you want to be in control of when your references are contacted, since you don’t want them to get “reference fatigue” by being contacted too much.

That said, no sane employer checks references until they’re seriously considering making an offer, so in most cases when they’re requested this early, it’s because the employer finds it easier to require them now rather than having to slow down the process later to ask for them and wait for them to be provided. (Of course, that only adds like a day to the process, so it’s a bit of a silly concern.)

In any case, one option is to include a note saying, “Out of respect for my references’ time, I prefer they not be contacted before we’ve had a chance to determine mutual interest, but I’d be happy to provide numerous references at that stage.” Of course, not every application will give you that option, and you may have no choice but to comply with this unreasonable demand.

2. I got a referral bonus for referring a friend for a job — should I share it with her?

I recently referred a friend for an opening where I work. Her phone/first interview went well and they now want to have her come in for a face-to-face. We get a pretty generous finder’s fee for referring someone, which she will find out upon getting hired and reading all her new hire paperwork. I told my boyfriend and another close friend that, if she gets hired, and I receive the sum of money, I’d like to treat her and her husband to a nice dinner, since I know she desperately needs the job and they’ve been having hard financial times. Both of them told me that she is actually the one that should treat me to lunch or something, for getting her the job. I’d feel sort of selfish, however, not sharing the wealth at least a little and she’ll know I got this money. What is your take on this?

No one here needs to treat anyone. You did your employer a favor by helping to connect them with a good employee; it wasn’t an act of charity toward your friend, so she doesn’t need to treat you. And your employer gave you a finder’s fee because they want good referrals; you’re not obligated to share the cash. That said, if you’d like to take your friend out to celebrate — totally separate from the referral bonus — by all means do!

3. Do I really have to wear this new company shirt?

I have a question about a dress code issue. I am a sub-contractor. I work for a company that has a contract to work with “them” at another company. Basically we supply the people, and they supply the equipment.

The company that owns the equipment is pretty much our boss. Recently we have been notified that we have to wear a shirt that has that company’s logo on it. This is something very new. The issue I am having is that I am told that since my shirt fits, I have to wear it, but those who have shirts that don’t fit don’t wear them until they get their sizes. It has been a month. Is me not wearing my shirt when not everybody has one something I can legally get written up for or terminated over?

Yes. Your company can require you to wear a uniform or other specific clothing. It’s reasonable that they’re temporarily suspending the requirements for people for whom they don’t yet have the right size, and that situation doesn’t really have any bearing on yours. They can indeed discipline you or fire if you refuse. But why is it even an issue? You have to wear the shirt, so … assuming it’s not revealing or offensive in some way, just wear it and avoid the whole issue?

4. Can I try to connect with my interviewer on LinkedIn?

I recently have begun to interview and have more than few interviews scheduled in the coming weeks- so I’m very lucky in that aspect – but I’m wondering if I’m missing an opportunity to grow my professional network by not sending LinkedIn invitations to my interviewers.

I’m wondering is it a valid enough association to ask somebody to join my professional network when we only had one or two conversations. Also, does it look bad like I am trying to brown nose or nag, or worst: is it like bringing my mom to the interviews so she can say “hire my little boy” since my network of professionals are people who would be rooting for me. is it too much?

Also would a LinkedIn invitation take the place of or be in addition to a thank you note after the interview?

Sure, that’s fine to do. Some interviewers will accept a LinkedIn invitation from a candidate and some won’t, but it’s not inappropriate to try. It’s not brown-nosing or nagging; it’s pretty clearly just networking.

It absolutely doesn’t take the place of a thank-you note though; it’s a totally different thing.

5. Explaining time spent caring for a parent

How do I make my resume reflect the four-month period that I spent caring for my dying father? Shortly before my dad went into the hospital, I was laid off from the community college because of a sudden drop in enrollment, but I was able to bounce back by taking on work as a private writing tutor. But when my dad went into the hospital, I had to give up all of my students so that I could take my disabled mother to visit him every day and so that I could be there to help make daily care decisions on his behalf. Now that he has passed away and my mother’s situation is more stable so that I can go back to applying for jobs, is there something I can put directly in my resume to explain the gaps?

Not on your resume since that’s just for professional experience, but you can definitely include a short explanation in your cover letter. I’d say this: “I took X months away for a family health issue that has since been resolved.”

{ 82 comments… read them below }

  1. S*

    OP #1 — funny thing, I actually applied for a job last week that asked for 3 references upfront. I declined respectfully, using language similar to Alison’s. Lo and behold, I got an email earlier this week from the program director asking me to come in for an interview, no mention of the references thing. So sometimes, hiring managers (or at least the people in charge of hiring for that position) are reasonable. Sometimes they’re not. I feel like I lucked out, personally, but Alison’s advice is sound.

    1. before the indifferent beak could let her drop?*

      This kind of thing is one of my pet peeves: I don’t know if it’s a power trip or incompetent systems design or what, but there’s a tendency for entities to ask for every bit of information they can think of, whether they actually need it or not.

      Grand prize goes to forms that ask for your birth date mm/dd/yyyy and then ask for your age nnn. On occasion I’ve put conflicting values in.

      My own company used to push you through a bunch of phone menus where you answered questions and made choices and entered your serial number and stuff – and when you’d finally get to a live person, the first thing they’d ask is: “May I have your serial number, please?” (to their credit they don’t do this anymore).

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        I hate that when you have to put in your serial number/bank card number/insert other number here and that’s the first question they ask… but I try and take a deep breath and think to myself that they are asking for that information to confirm that the person that’s been shunted to them is actually you and not someone else. I’ve never worked in a call centre (and I’m sure people will jump in to correct my naive assumptions) but I hope that there is some mechanism in place that actually records the input number so that it does pop up on the screen of the CSR who’s handling the call.

        1. before the indifferent beak could let her drop?*

          I don’t know, but they could instead answer the phone with “Hello Mr. Drop, how can I help you?” If I was not Mr. Drop, I’d probably say something.

          (When my company was doing this, I asked and it was for sure because the call center person wasn’t linked to the phone system. Ie, they weren’t asking to verify my information – they were asking because they didn’t know who I was).

        2. Musereader*

          In my last job we were a processing centre for clerical work, customers used to put in their reference on the phones to get through to the right department but because we were not the main line of business (handled about 5% of cases that had fallen off the system) or a dedicated call centre we did not have the CSR program due to the expense, it did not appear on our screens, and the first thing we had to ask was the reference number, it was equally as frustrating for us. The only telephone monitoring system we had was a list of the numbers that had called and the fact we had to manually record each call that came in on the customer record.

          1. Sandrine (France)*

            We did ask when I worked at a call center.

            Because no matter what you could be sure that 75% of people didn’t know to input the proper number we needed to find them in the system. So we asked again to make sure we were on the right file :/ .

            1. dawbs*

              When I was at a call center they did often pop up (although they were often wrong), but we got in trouble if we didn’t ‘verify all customer information’ before discussing billing (which, while annoying, did actually make *some* sense)

              1. LQ*

                Yeah a lot of the doing numbers/id/other info is for verification because I don’t want my ex or my sister or my creepy neighbor who dug through my garbage to be able to access my whatever account.

  2. a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi*

    #2: My company also has a referral program that pays a bonus. I’ve pondered the entire question of “should I share?” and come down on the side of “not unless I want to”. But I always make sure the interviewee knows about the bonus. I’m not sure if it’s really an obligation, but I feel better putting it all out in the open like that.

    1. CherryScary*

      Our company does this as well. My BF got a bonus for referring me (we work in different buildings/departments) but I owed him a small sum of money, and we counted the bonus as me paying that off.

      We just referred a mutual friend, and we’re going to split that even though he submitted it (we actually get a larger bonus if you refer multiple people within a year.)

    2. HR Manager*

      #1 – I wonder if the company is asking for references as a time saver. Should you move forward and eventually get to the final stages, they want to be able to ask “May I contact your references” and go, rather than wait for the candidate to reach out and send along the contact info. While most do this with a quick turnaround, there are some contacts that seem to take a long time getting around to this (not prepared?).

      #2 – I agree that there is no obligation to share. The referred employee got (hopefully) a fantastic new job – that should be reward enough.

      #4 – I wouldn’t presume to connect with an interviewer while you are still in consideration. Sometimes a conversation goes really well, and you develop a rapport with the recruiter, but I would wait for the recruiter’s lead here. There just may be some awkwardness if they end up having to offer disappointing news. After the candidacy is no longer active, then a connection request is ok.

  3. Artemesia*

    I think if you get a bonus in a commercial transaction for directing a friend at the very least you should be transparent about it. But to get a friend a job is a great favor; if anything the gratitude should flow the other way. A kickback from the friend is probably unethical but sharing a referral bonus is certainly not necessary.

  4. SCMill*

    #2 – Not exactly the same thing, but I gave a co-worker 10% of a referral bonus once. We both knew the candidate well and had worked with him at different companies, and when she found out he was coming in for an interview on a referral, she ran to the hiring manager to give him a glowing recommendation. He probably would have been hired anyway, but her extra push before the hiring manager met him helped. I thought I should share the (considerable) bounty with her.

  5. Question Mark*

    #5- I’m not sure I would say “I took x months away for a family health issue that has since been resolved”. That sounds like a positive outcome and you may be asked more about it. Saying it was resolved – because he died – could come across as quite callous… That said, I’m not sure I have a better suggestion other than leaving off the “has been resolved” at the end. Thoughts?

    1. MK*

      I do think it sounds too vague; and frankly, my first thought would be that the candidate was ill themselves and don’t want to say so. If I had spent time caring for a dying parent, I would say so outright. BUT some people are a lot more private about things like that, so I think it’s a good neutral way to comment on the employement gap. On the other hand, one could just say “I took x months away for a family health issue”; the “it’s been resolved” is sort of implied by the fact that you are looking to go back to work.

      1. Ellie H.*

        I agree it’s implied, maybe to be even more explicit, you could say ‘I took x months away for a family health issue, and am now planning to return to full-time work’, which obviously indicates that whatever was keeping you away from work is no longer keeping you away from work.

    2. Corry*

      I’d say “for a family issue that has been concluded” which sounds like a pretty neutral “and it’s finished now” answer to me. But I’ll be looking for better answers, since I spent a week being super-awkward when my father-in-law passed because there’s just no good answer to these kinds of questions. (“So, going anywhere this weekend?” “Yup, funeral.” Awkward silence.)

      1. OP #5*

        Yes. I worry that language written to sound neutral will sound cold, which is far from the way I feel about losing my father, but that saying “my father died” will sound like a ploy for sympathy. Also, I’m not sure what to do about companies that filter first by resume before reading cover letters.

        1. Artemesia*

          this is one where I would just say that I took the time to care for a dying parent; I agree that the neutral language in this case sounds like either you are hiding your own poor health or perhaps alluding to a relative with a chronic illness which might become a future problem. e.g. a child with cancer who is now in remission.

    3. Colette*

      I wouldn’t recommend leaving off “it’s been resolved” – the potential employer might be thinking “how often is this going to happen?”

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      No sane employer will ask for more details, because they’re not supposed to be asking about disabilities and asking for more info about a medical situation (which may or may not be yours) risks doing exactly that.

      1. TB*

        They won’t ask, but they’re likely to wonder, and hypothesize, and it seems like it would be better to just get it out there and make sure they understand it wasn’t *your* health issue.

    5. Zed*

      From the letter, it sounds like the period of time spent caring for the ill parent was only about four months. In the current economic climate, I am not sure that four months out of the workforce is unusual enough to warrant an explanation at all…

    6. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      This is where I think flowery or overly formal language obscures the message. I’m a big fan of being honest, candid and truthful. In this example, I don’t see an issue in simply saying, “I took some time to care for my father before he passed.” It’s not a ploy for sympathy, the situation is clearly resolved, and the statement is matter of fact.

      I’m usually right in agreement with you, Alison, but this is one area (and perhaps because I’ve been in this situation) where I think you missed the mark with the suggested verbaige.

  6. Lily in NYC*

    Company shirts: The summer before college, I had a job delivering auto parts for napa – I got to drive a pickup truck with a giant hard-hat on it; people would point and laugh at it (I loved it; I felt like I was driving the WienerMobile). But it wasn’t all awesome. I had a choice of two t-shirts to wear each day. One said: All the Right Parts in All the Right Places and the other said: Check out My Parts. Mortifying. I got so many date offers from mechanics that summer!

    1. Samantha*

      Ewww. Now that’s a reason to refuse to wear a company shirt. Did male employees have to wear these shirts too?

    2. Sandra Dee*

      At my office, we have 4 large buildings, and have been doing some major renovations. All employees have ID badges and are professionally dressed. With the renovations, all contractors and subcontractors have a specific shirt that is to be worn while on site working on the renovations. It makes them easily identified, and we know that they are there for a specific reason.

      Yes, sometimes wearing a company shirt is required and you are a walking advertisement for your company, other times it is part of the uniform.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        You completely missed the point of my comment. I was commenting about what was written on my shirts, not that I had to wear one.

    3. Dynamic Beige*

      There’s a local company that rents blow up installations, I’m not sure what you call them. Like what you might see at car dealerships during promo campaigns — although I’m sure they do custom and other things. Anyway, they have wrapped vans that, under the driver’s window, says something like “just BLOW ME up!” I can’t remember the exact phrase they use, but the blow me is much larger than the other words. While it gave me a laugh and it was memorable, I don’t think I’d want to be behind the wheel of that vehicle… but some people might enjoy that.

    4. Jill of All Trades*

      I’m sooooo sorry you had to wear those shirts and sooo grateful you shared that story. It made my Saturday if it’s any consolation.

    5. Katriona*

      Gross. My company shirt story isn’t quite that bad, but I worked at a sporting goods store when the CEO was on Undercover Boss and had to spend two weeks walking around with his face plastered all over my back. And they didn’t even care if we had the right size–my shirt was almost down to my knees. I usually don’t mind wearing company shirts, but I was happy to retire that one after the episode aired.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        Oh my goodness, I am picturing photos of Mitch Modell, whose face I do not want to see on a shirt, ever. I think he did Undercover Boss.

  7. Helen*

    #1–I put something similar to that in a cover letter for a job that asked for references up front, and I got called for an interview, so they must not have been put off by it. Giving my references early makes me really uncomfortable, and I hate that it’s become a thing.

    1. S*

      I feel like it’s less of a “thing” now than it is a sign of an older company going by outdated hiring practices. The majority of applications I’ve been working on don’t ask for references up front, especially not those in my field (tech start-ups).

  8. TeapotCounsel*

    I’ve learned something new this morning: my views on the references are in the minority.
    I list my references on my resume and include their cell numbers and emails. To me, that makes it easier for everyone, and it tells potential employers that I have credible references and they’re free to check. To my way of thinking, somebody who is cagey with providing references has something to hide. But I see from the comments, that there’s apparently more to it than that.

    1. CAA*

      I have an interview on Monday with someone who put his references on his resume. It didn’t hurt him, but it definitely didn’t help him either. My first thought upon seeing that was that he’s fairly clueless about what should be on a resume even though he’s got over 20 yrs experience. But then, given the very high level of cluelessness among the population applying for my jobs, it’s far from the worst thing I saw. (My favorite was the guy who has “10 years experience in IT”, but only lists his college class projects in work experience section of his resume. He’s not getting an interview.)

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yep — it usually comes across as a little naive/out of touch with professional norms. It’s not going to hurt an already good candidate, but it definitely doesn’t help.

        (And really, the assumption is that most people can provide references when they’re requested, so it doesn’t really demonstrate anything to list them up-front.)

        1. TeapotCounsel*

          So, my take-away message from this is that I (and others who have been doing this) are recommended to not include references’ contact info on a resume. Correct?

          1. Looby*

            I moved from listing all their details to “References available on request” at the end of my resume. Now I leave them off completely and make sure to take a copy or two of their contact details to any interview.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Actually, take off “references available on request” too! It’s not needed (everyone assumes you’ll give them references upon request, so you don’t need to say it — it’s like saying “interview available upon request”) and it’s just taking up space you could use for something else.

              1. Looby*

                Sorry, wording fail! I meant I now leave everything about references off my resume, including that line and just take them with me to the interview.

    2. OP#5*

      Well, I definitely don’t have anything to hide – I have three or four former supervisors who are happy to give me glowing recommendations. It just feels like a bit of a violation of privacy to be sending my references (personal) emails and phone numbers to dozens of people that I don’t know and have never spoken with, and I also really don’t want them called before I’ve decided that I want the job and can give them a heads up – it just seems inconsiderate to me, and I want them to at least have had the opportunity to give my work for them a quick mental review.

      If that makes sense.

    3. Rebeck*

      I know there are a few other Australians around here who can correct me if I’m wrong, but my impression is that 3 references with contact details is standard for the end of your resume around here. To the point that a resume is considered incomplete without them and on my current workplace, would be rejected as an incomplete application.

      1. Aussie in NZ*

        Yes I think that’s right Rebeck. But I think Australian resume norms are quite different from the US – they seem to prefer it to be more detailed & two pages minimum.

    4. Amy*

      As someone who frequently agrees to act as a reference (I supervise a lot of interns), I would absolutely hate it if I found out that people I had agreed to be references for were indiscriminately sending my cell phone number and email address to the dozens or hundreds of jobs they’re applying to, to be put into databases and photocopied and passed around to strangers at companies I’ve never heard of. It actually sort of freaks me out to think about it. Please don’t do this unless your references give you explicit permission to do so.

  9. Ghost Pepper*

    What if Friend A referred a candidate to Friend B, and Friend B referred the candidate to his employer? Would Friend B be obligated to share some of the referral bonus with Friend A?

    Had this happen with a couple friends who were Friend A in both situations, and Friend B did not share the funds.

    1. Mander*

      I think it would be nice if Friend B took Friend A out for a beer or something as a thank you, but if I was Friend A I wouldn’t expect anything other than “thanks for telling me about the candidate”.

      Similarly in the LW’s situation, it would be a nice gesture to take the friend and her family out for dinner or drinks or something, but I don’t think it is at all expected or required.

  10. Merry and Bright*

    OP#5, I would say something similar to what Alison suggested because somehow you need to let the interviewer know that you won’t be asking for time off for this if they employ you. It is hard but interviewers can hear alarm bells.

  11. Liane*

    #3: Of course you need to wear your shirt–and so does every other employee, if they have one. Yes, even it’s the wrong size but wearable. I bet the Real Problem is that the company is enforcing the policy unevenly &/or that some employees are lying about not having a shirt that’s at all wearable.

    That happened when my employer changed the dress code & brought back company supplied wizard/witch hats in magenta (the company’s classic color), which hadn’t been worn for years. Our store didn’t order enough hats (& only re-ordered a few weeks ago), which meant some current employees & all new hires didn’t have them. At the same time, the store managers were ordered by their superiors to immediately enforce the long-standing policy of sending people home to get properly dressed or get their name badge.
    So for months, not everyone was wearing a magenta hat, some of whom had been issued one. It was pretty common for a Have, when told to clock out & go home to get their hat, to claim they were a Don’t-have. This is a big store, with a lot of turnover, so it could be pretty hard to keep track. And yes, those of us Haves who didn’t like the hats but wore them every shift were angry about the Haves who got away with not wearing theirs; the latter–Surprise! Surprise!–were also the same ones who were getting away with stuff like extra-long breaks, using their phones on the clock, etc.

    1. Wendy*

      Any Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes employee should be able to easily get a magenta hat at Madam Malkin’s, just down the street!

    2. Kelly L.*

      OMG, I want to wear a magenta witch hat at work. They do tell you to dress for the job you want. ;)

  12. Op2*

    Op 2 here thanks for all your replies. I guess I’m still on the fence a bit but I get what Alison says about celebrating irrespective of the bonus. Also Ive been transparent about it in so much as I told her to be sure this is something she wants to do because I’d feel bad referring someone and getting a bonus only to have them leave after a few months or a year or something (she’s a perfect fit I only said this because for a while she didn’t want full time work)

    1. Dynamic Beige*

      So my question is: if your friend doesn’t successfully land the job, should your friend pay you the bonus you would have gotten if they did get the job? Or, if your friend does get the job and they start referring people, should you get a cut of that? If you answered “no” to either of those, then that is also the answer to your dilemma. I think you’re feeling guilty about your relative good fortune compared to your friend and that’s making you feel like you should give them some of the bonus because it makes you unhappy/uncomfortable that they’re struggling. Which, if you’re a good friend, of course you want your friends to be happy, no one likes to see that.

      Also, by referring a friend for a job, you’re saving your company a lot of extra work and hassle with advertising the position, screening a lot of resumés, narrowing down the field, interviewing the candidates. I’m sure whatever bonus they’re paying you, it’s nowhere near what they would spend in money and lost productivity conducting a search.

      1. MK*

        Eh, I doubt that any sane company substitutes the hiring process with giving referal bonuses. A referral from an employee means that they might get a candidate who may not be searching and might not apply otherwise, plus they have a built-in reference. They surely can’t skip advertising for the job entirely; how can they be sure they will get a good federal or that there isn’t some better candidate out there;

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          So admittedly, I don’t know how the whole hiring process works — one of the reasons I now read this blog. I guess in my industry and working in largely private companies, the ones I have worked for did operate this way, or at least that’s how I got the jobs, someone I knew in the company referred me and, to the best of my knowledge there wasn’t an active job advertised nor were there any other candidates (and it was a loong time ago before websites and posting jobs that way). I guess that if I was The Boss and we needed people and one of my employees said that their friend had experience in what we did, I would look at that person first before advertising… but that would also be private sector.

    2. teclatwig*

      FWIW, if a friend of mine got a bonus for referring me, I would think, “Awesome, I got a job, and friend got money into the bargain!” It wouldn’t occur to me to expect that we had together gotten money out of the company and that I was owed my share. I would be touched if Friend offered me a portion because she knew I had been struggling and she was feeling comfortable money-wise, but I am not sure I would be comfortable accepting. That said, I think this may be a matter of “know your friend culture.”

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Some places make you wait until the person has been there for x months, then they pay you.
      It’s two hurdles in those cases= getting hired and staying there for a bit.

  13. So Very Anonymous*

    Re OP #1: this may be an industry-specific thing. In my field it’s very normal to be asked to provide a list of references with your application, and I think you’d be drawing attention to yourself in a negative way if you made an issue out of it. Probably a case of knowing what the norm is in a particular field?

    1. Lizzie*

      Same. In my field (education, which as noted below, does not play by the “usual” rules in many aspects), it’s the norm to provide references AND letters of reference up front.

      1. So Very Anonymous*

        Yep, I’m in higher ed, though not as faculty anymore. When I was applying for teaching jobs, definitely had to provide letters up front — thank God for the dossier service!

      2. Zed*

        I work at a university, and we ask for references up front. It would be a potential red flag if a candidate did not provide the names of references along with their cover letter and CV.

        We also check references before inviting candidates in to interview.

    2. S*

      I’ve seen the request across a variety of industries, but it tends to come up the most at places that use outdated application software. The newer software typically asks just for name, address, resume, and cover letter (Greenhouse, Resumator, etc).

    3. OP#1*

      Hmm. I hope it’s not my industry standard! The majority of listings I see don’t ask for it, though – maybe 85% don’t and 15% do, or thereabouts?

      1. S*

        Exactly! I’m seeing about the same ratio. Honestly, I’m pushing back against it wherever I can, and that may sound like a terrible idea to a lot of readers and commenters, but I feel no need to provide reference information before I’ve had any contact whatsoever with the company. It feels like a privacy violation as well…

  14. Anx*


    “That said, no sane employer checks references until they’re seriously considering making an offer, so in most cases when they’re requested this early, it’s because the employer finds it easier to require them now rather than having to slow down the process later to ask for them and wait for them to be provided.”

    I really haven’t been on many interviews, but every time a reference was checked, it was checked by the time I interviewed. It bothers me because it puts me in the position of asking my references to fill out a lot of questionnaires when I may not even get the interview (whether form the references themselves or because the application is still under review). Now I feel hesitant to apply for jobs unless I feel it’s worth bothering my references for. Since I haven’t had a long-term position since 2008, I feel incredibly awkward and embarrassed as it is to ask them for these references.

      1. todykins*

        Not the original commenter, but I have had this experience as well – often, references are called before the agency contacts you for an interview! This process makes it very difficult to give references the courtesy of a heads-up, though I generally circumvent it by reaching out to my references when I begin applying.

        I work in the federal government, another one of those “doesn’t play by regular rules” industries.

      2. Anx*

        Some of the interviews have been in education (colleges, private tutoring centers), but others have been at temp agencies, a hospital, technology companies, colleges (for non-education positions) and government.

        What may affect things is that I have a pretty impressive resume up to the recession, and then my accomplishments and activities sort of go off of a cliff. I went from having a myriad of extracurriculars and part-time jobs in school to having long stretches of unemployment dotted with short-time stints in school or working in seasonal service industries. So I wonder if that’s part of it and they just present it as policy?

        Or perhaps the fact that these are huge employers has something to do with it. I live in an economically impoverished area with a few major employers for the jobs I really look for.

        1. Anx*

          Another factor may be that I’ve other worked full-time jobs in the summer when I could find the hours (I come from an area with high tourism) and don’t have paid experience for many of the jobs I apply to.

          Several of my friends have lamented over asking their references to fill out these questionnaires or asking to serve as a phone reference in other industries so I think it is something that affects entry level workers more.

  15. Kate*

    I try to only connect on LinkedIn with people I’d actually feel comfortable introducing to someone (or introducing someone to), especially if I can say something meaningful about their work. An interviewer I met with once or twice doesn’t make that cut for me. But maybe I’m more stingy about connections than others?

  16. Jessie*

    OP #1: It might be a preference in the way the company tracks applications. With federal resumes you have to include references up-front (in addition to separate contacts for each job you’ve held). I interviewed for several federal positions recently and in no case did they contact those references early. They just asked me after the interview if I wanted to add anyone to my list of references (since I’d submitted the application a while ago). My guess is that some companies on the private side do the same thing, where they just like to have all the information they may need up front on one system.

  17. Sally Social Worker*

    In regards to #5, if you took 10 years off of work to stay home with children, would you use a similar explanation in your cover letter? “From 2005-2015, I stayed at home to raise my children, but now I’m excited to return to working in the X field” or something similar.

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