Ack! I have references, they just aren't ready!
February 19, 2013 8:00 PM   Subscribe

I found a job I want to apply for. It closes at midnight. I had not planned to apply, so don't have references ready to go. What to do?

I would normally post this kind of thing anonymously for privacy reasons, but time is of the essence here. I just found what looks like a potential perfect job, and the application is asking for references. I need to submit the application by midnight. I do have relevant references who I know would probably be happy to refer me, but I don't have time to contact them to ask permission to list them before submitting the application. I do not feel comfortable listing them without asking permission first. How to proceed? Should I:

a) Just leave the references blank and hope they do not automatically toss my application
b) Write in "references available upon request", "references available upon interview", or other phrase and submit the application
c) other

posted by anonnymoose to Work & Money (19 answers total)
I would choose B - that's pretty normal in semi-professional jobs where they're not likely to check your references, or where HR will do it once decision makers have decided if they're interested in you. If you're in an industry where references are always followed up, or it's really competitive and the slightest edge might be critical, maybe it's different, but I usually choose option B even when my references are ready to go. ("references available on request", that is).
posted by anonymisc at 8:03 PM on February 19, 2013 [5 favorites]

B. I do this as standard practice, and it's never been an issue.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:05 PM on February 19, 2013

Nobody will check your references until after you've been interviewed and they're ready to make you an offer anyway, so they can ask your for their contact info later. Just say they're available upon request.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:06 PM on February 19, 2013

B > A. I currently use B because I can't have my references contacted without my letting them know first.
posted by jmd82 at 8:07 PM on February 19, 2013

Definitely B for reasons stated above (they shouldn't be checked unless needed)
posted by bitdamaged at 8:07 PM on February 19, 2013

Don't leave it blank. Don't give some automated process the excuse to pitch your application site unseen!

Put in "references available upon request." Then contact your people first thing in the morning to ask their permission. No-one is going to call your references this early in the game, but that way you're covered and ready to go, just in case HR wants names sooner rather than later for some reason.
posted by desuetude at 8:11 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Choose B.
posted by Miko at 8:14 PM on February 19, 2013

If it is me, just go ahead and list me and drop me a line tomorrow.

Seriously, I would list the references and dissemble just a little tomorrow by asking if you can use them.
posted by LarryC at 8:16 PM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Another vote for B. I might think twice if the job is super-competitive and/or entry level, as a hiring manager in those cases is basically looking for any reason to reject a candidate in order to shrink the pile. If the job is more professional in nature, they should absolutely be used to seeing "on request" on a regular basis. You could consider listing a reference that you know is available now and putting "additional references available on request," but I don't think its necessary.

As an aside, you might consider using LinkedIn and soliciting recommendations from a few key people to appear on your profile. The weight employers will attach to this will vary depending on your industry, but it can be a good way to get some references out there without the specific process of listing them on applications.
posted by zachlipton at 8:18 PM on February 19, 2013

I’m going against the grain here and suggest just putting in your references and calling them first thing in the morning to let them know.
If the job ad specifically asked for references, or it’s an online form chances are that they will just toss your app if you can’t provide the info they are asking for.
I also have ‘available on request’ on my generic CV but this is a different situation.
Also, for both of my last 2 roles my references were asked to provide a written statement before the interview, which I found odd, annoying and completely rude, but maybe it’s the new trend.
If this is your dream job I wouldn’t risk it. Not providing the details they are specifically asking for might be viewed as a deal breaker.
posted by Youremyworld at 8:19 PM on February 19, 2013 [6 favorites]

Yup I would go with B.

I faced a similar situation where option B was not available; I had to include references and the deadline was hours away. My reference, of course, would have totally been fine with it. The only hiccup was that I then forgot that I had listed them (it was a mass-application like recruiting process, and this was the only job out of 30+ requiring a reference).

Fast forward to after my second interview with this employer, and I finally double-check my original application (like I said, it was a mass recruiting process), and, to my horror, I see that I had listed this reference without clearing it with them. By the time I called, my reference had just gotten off the phone with the employer! Fortunately, they were super cool about it and pretended like they knew exactly who was calling and why (they may have also just thought they had forgotten that I had asked). In any event, I apologized profusely, and felt pretty terrible. That was a definite no no. I learned from my mistake though and am much more diligent about this kind of thing now. (And I got the job). It is certainly a learning process, especially for people like me who aren't the most detailed-oriented in the world.

I'm glad you're being proactive about it. So although my situation was different, I would suggest strongly against listing your references without clearing it with them first. Even if you were to call them first thing the next morning, you can't be sure what they will say. I think writing "References Available Upon Request" is fine — it shows that you're only serious if they are serious about you.
posted by ageispolis at 8:20 PM on February 19, 2013

Most companies are not going to be calling your references until after they interview you - usually it's the last step. I'd put in the people you think would likely be comfortable being references for you. Then email/call those people in the morning and ask if they are comfortable being references for you. Most likely they will say yes. If one says no, then you find someone else. Then you can either a) go back to the online system and update with the new person (if it lets you) or b) at the interview, say that since the time you submitted the application you were able to get in touch with someone who was a better reference than one of the people you had initially submitted, and hand them an updated list (and follow up by emailing it to them).
posted by radioamy at 8:31 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm going to have to say option A. I mean, asking permission is pretty much a formality. Do you expect any of them to say no? The reason you ask is so that they have a heads up, which you will certainly have time for in the morning.
posted by Garm at 8:32 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would do A. Writing references available upon request? They did request them. Put in the names and contact them tomorrow.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:45 PM on February 19, 2013

You probably need to take seriously the risk that your application will get tossed if you don't give references, if they specifically asked for them.

If you're determined to do the right thing by your referees, how about this. Write in your references, then confirm it's ok with your referees in the morning. In the unlikely event they say no (why would they?) you can always ring up the employer and cancel your job application.
posted by dontjumplarry at 12:13 AM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Just list them and then tell them later. Sorry I guess it's too late, but I hope that's what you did. :) I've been listing the same people for years and I figure they know they're on retainer should I apply for a new job. I've heard from managers who ditch resumes/apps that say "available on request" because, duh, why wouldn't they be?
posted by masquesoporfavor at 4:36 AM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I too would list my references and then give them a heads up after the fact. Especially if it's a government job where you have to follow the instructions to the letter.

Available on Request is old-school and most places either don't ask for references until you're well into the process, or they'll ask for them up front, but will wait to call them until you're about to be hired.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:32 AM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

Just wanted to chime back in that while yes, checking ahead of time with your references *should* be a formality, it's usually best to "ask" not "tell." Not implying that the OP will actually have any problem getting the okay from the references, but I've read posts before (I think on Ask a Manager, maybe on AskMe) along the lines of "help, someone put me down as a reference but I don't feel comfortable recommending them!"
posted by radioamy at 9:45 AM on February 20, 2013

For me the deciding factor would be whether these people have agreed to be references previously and so it'll just be a matter of letting them know that you're actively applying and they might get a call — in which case, A, being sure to contact them no later than first thing in the morning — or if it will be the first time you've asked them to be references — in which case B.
posted by Lexica at 6:19 PM on February 20, 2013

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