You have submitted a great resume that demonstrates your suitability to the advertised role. You are then called in for one or more interviews and they love you. Only one thing left - a reference check. Even at this point, your referees can potentially damage your chances of getting the job. Consider the following to ensure your referees don't shut down your employment opportunity:
1. Choose your referees wisely. Ideally, your referees should be able to provide your prosective employer with a character reference and feedback on your performance in the workplace.
2. If you have some great referees, and you have moved on from their employment, keep in regular contact with them. Every 6 months, touch base with them. Find out if they are still happy to be a reference for you. It is common courtesy.
3. If you manage to get an interview with a prospective employer and it goes well, give your referee a call to let them know that their services may be required.
4. If you have been out of the workforce for over 2 years, think about other potential referees you could add to your existing referees. For example, have you done any volunteering or charity work during this time? Have you been on a committee (for example, a school committee)? Have you been in casual employment?
5. Your friends and family should not be your referees. They are naturally biased and will not provide a fair assessment of your work performance or character.