How long after a reference check do you get a job offer?

Updated on August 8, 2023
How long after a reference check do you get a job offer

Navigating the job application process can feel like a journey through uncharted territory. You've aced the interview, your references have been requested, and now you're caught in the waiting game.

It's nerve-wracking, right? The suspense of wondering how long after a reference check you'll receive a job offer, or even if you will get one at all, can be a major source of stress.

In this article, I’m going to help you decode these post-interview timelines. We'll delve into what happens after the reference check, shed light on how long it usually takes to receive a job offer, and propose actionable tips for this waiting period.

With this knowledge, you'll be better equipped to handle the suspense and uncertainty of job hunting.

What does it mean when a job checks your references?

When a potential employer checks your references, it's a green light indicating that you've made it to the end of the selection process.

This step is an essential part of an employer's due diligence before they make a hiring decision. It helps them validate the information you've provided in your resume and during the interviews.

For instance, imagine you've claimed to have a certain set of skills, or that you've achieved specific milestones in your previous job.

Checking references offers the employer a chance to verify these details. They might reach out to your former supervisor or a co-worker to confirm your abilities and accomplishments.

Now, you might ask why reference checks are so crucial in the hiring process. Simply put, they add an extra layer of certainty for the employer. Hiring is a resource-intensive process, both in terms of time and money.

Employers want to ensure they're bringing on board someone who's a good fit not just in terms of skills, but also personality and culture fit. By speaking to people who've worked with you in the past, they can gain insights that aren't always apparent from interviews or resumes.

That’s why you should pick at least 3 references who can provide positive, accurate accounts of your work.

And remember, a strong reference can be that final nudge you need to secure the job. Notify your references in advance so they're prepared for any calls or emails from your potential employer.

How long do reference checks take?

How long do reference checks take

On average, reference checks take between 3 to 7 business days. This is based on the time it takes to contact each reference and have a meaningful conversation about your work history and character.

Why this particular time range, you might ask? Employers usually connect with multiple references to ensure they have a comprehensive understanding of your professional abilities.

Each conversation can take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. So, for three references, we're talking about a minimum of 45 minutes.

However, hiring managers are often juggling multiple responsibilities and candidates, meaning reference checks can span over a few days.

How many days after a reference check do you receive a job offer?

After the reference checks are complete, you may expect to receive a job offer within about 1 to 3 business days. This timeline allows the hiring manager to thoroughly review the information gathered during the reference checks and make a final decision.

However, this timeline can vary based on the company's hiring process, the number of candidates being considered, and the urgency to fill the role.

What you can do while waiting is to keep in touch with the hiring manager or HR representative during this period and express your continued interest in the role.

Does a reference check mean you will get a job offer?

While a reference check is a positive sign in the hiring process, it doesn't always guarantee a job offer. It suggests you're a strong candidate, and the employer is taking final steps to verify your credentials.

Note that there might be other applicants who are also undergoing the same reference checks. Employers normally decide who is the best fit based on all collected data. This is also why the process feels like it’s taking too long.

What to do while waiting for a job offer after a reference check

What to do while waiting for a job offer after a reference check

Waiting for a job offer after a reference check can be nerve-wracking. Here are some actionable tips to keep you occupied and proactive during this period:

1. Stay Professional

Maintaining professionalism is key during this waiting phase. This can mean various things, from responding promptly and courteously to any communication from the employer, to not bombarding them with follow-up emails or calls.

Remember to respect their time and trust their process. Sending a brief, polite follow-up email a week after your reference check can help remind the employer of your interest and enthusiasm.

2. Keep Job Hunting

Even though you might feel confident about the job you're waiting for, it's wise to keep your options open. Continue looking for other jobs and attend other interviews if you get the opportunity.

This keeps you active and prepared, and it can also offer you a plan B in case the current opportunity doesn't pan out.

3. Self-Improvement

Use this waiting time effectively by honing your skills. Depending on the job role you've applied for, consider taking online courses, gaining certifications, or simply catching up on relevant reading.

This could be industry news, trends, or new technologies or tools. Not only will this make you a stronger candidate, but it also demonstrates a commitment to lifelong learning.

4. Prepare for Negotiations

If you receive a job offer, you may have the opportunity to negotiate salary or benefits. Use this waiting period to research typical salary ranges for your role in your specific geographic area.

Websites like Glassdoor and PayScale can provide useful insights. Understand your worth and be prepared to communicate it effectively.

5. Stay Positive and Patient

Patience is crucial during this time. Employers often have many applications to go through and decisions to make, which takes time.

Avoid the urge to stress or interpret the wait as a negative sign. Instead, keep your mindset positive, continue with your normal routine, and stay hopeful for the best outcome.

When to follow up after reference check

Knowing when to follow up after a reference check can be a delicate balancing act.

As a rule of thumb, give the employer at least 1 week from the date they conducted the reference check. This allows time for them to process all the information gathered.

After that period, it's perfectly acceptable to reach out and politely inquire about the status of your application. Your follow-up can be as simple as expressing your continued interest in the role and asking if there's any additional information they need from you.

However, try not to overdo it—patience is key in this stage of the hiring process. The aim is to show your enthusiasm without appearing pushy.

Here’s a simple email template if you’re thinking about sending a follow-up message:

Subject: Following up on [Job Title] Application

Hello [Hiring Manager's Name],

I trust you're doing well. It's been a week since we last spoke, and I wanted to follow up regarding the status of my application for the [Job Title] role.

I understand that choosing the right candidate can be a time-consuming process and I appreciate your meticulous approach. I'm very excited about the opportunity to potentially bring my skills and experiences to [Company Name] and am eagerly awaiting the next steps.

Should you need any additional information from my side during this process, please feel free to let me know.

Thank you again for considering me for this role. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best regards,
[Your Name]

My experience waiting for reference checks

Believe it or not, I have been working as a project manager for the same international tech company for over a decade. So let me tell you how I got this job and the role that my references played in getting the role.

Honestly, I remember it like it happened yesterday, I remember that a chill ran down my spine as I hit the 'send' button when I submitted three references for the final stage of my application – two coworkers from the small start-up I was working for at the time and a former manager from a brief internship at a different start-up.

I had a humble work history and some projects under my belt, but… this was different. This was my first big career move.

The days following that submission were some of the longest of my life. The ticking of the clock was no longer a subtle background rhythm but a deafening drumbeat that echoed my nervous heartbeat.

Each passing moment was soaked in anticipation. Each ping of my phone threatened to throw me off balance, making my heart skip a beat.

I couldn't help but replay the entirety of my education and my professional life like an unending reel in my mind, constantly asking myself if it was enough.

One torturous week later, I received the call. My hands trembled slightly as I picked up the phone. The voice on the other end belonged to the HR Manager who interviewed me.

We exchanged common pleasantries for a brief moment but her tone was unreadable, and I braced myself for whatever was to come.

After a few moments of silence, which felt like an eternity, she finally spoke. "I have good news. We have finished contacting your references, and we are pleased to extend an offer to you… “

I could hardly believe my ears. A rush of relief, happiness, and a sense of accomplishment surged through me. I had done it. The torturous waiting game had ended in my favor.

My references had vouched for me, and I was about to step into the next chapter of my career, into my dream job.

The nerves, the anxiety, the anticipation, all of it was worth it. Now, it was time to rise to the challenge, to prove myself right.

After all, getting the job was just the beginning of the journey. The real work was about to begin.

Frequently asked questions about job offers after reference checks

Why do employers conduct reference checks?

Employers conduct reference checks to verify the information provided by candidates and gain additional insights into their abilities, work ethic, and character.

Can a reference check result in a job offer being rescinded?

Yes, a job offer can be rescinded if the information obtained during a reference check is significantly negative or contradicts what the candidate has presented.

Can an applicant ask the employer for a timeline for the job offer after the reference check?

Yes, it's perfectly acceptable for an applicant to politely inquire about the expected timeline for a job offer after the reference check.

How many references do employers typically check?

Employers typically check 2-3 references, but it can vary depending on the company and the position.

Can I use a friend as a reference?

In some cases, a personal reference like a friend can be acceptable, particularly if they can speak about what kind of a person you are in terms of character traits.

Should I inform my references that they may be contacted by the employer?

Yes, you should always inform your references in advance that they might be contacted by a potential employer.

What should I do if I do not receive a job offer after a reference check?

If you don't receive a job offer after a reference check, it's recommended to professionally follow up with the employer and, if no offer is forthcoming, continue your job search and keep exploring other opportunities.

Written by:
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co-founder / office worker
Alex has been an office worker for more than 10 years. He is dedicated to helping other office workers to achieve the perfect life-work balance through well-being, effective communication, and building productive habits.

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