References become relevant at the “very end” of recruitment process (for permanent employment as well as consulting engagement).
But they are equally important and can sway your chances either way. In-spite of a good performance in the screening process, you may still lose the opportunity if references do not come out strong or if they raise concerns.
Usually a reference is asked a predefined set of questions. But their generic comments are noted as well and passed on to end-client (and their HR dept).
Like any other process, this is imperfect. It has too many variables:
1. You may lose contact with a reference.
2. Prospective end-client may have special requirements for references. For instance, they might require the reference still be actively employed with the same client. But then, your reference may have moved on to other opportunities.
3. You may go “out of favor” with your reference.
4. Contrary to your assumption, the reference may not feel as positively about your last deliverable or documentation.
5. The reference may have had a bad day at work/home. Do not let that disrupt your career move.
As an alternative, use an automated mechanism for reference. (Self-Ping @ERPandI.com).
It is NOT nearly as strong as a professional reference, but does the job.
With a Self-Ping, you get to say, for instance, “I, James Joyce, was at Monsanto, on Jan of 2011”. ERPandi.com will confirm the ping.
Check out the video (39 secs; how it works?) and send your first ping now.
Consulting SME Team