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You’re looking for a new job and need references to provide for the hiring manager. The only problem is the references you’re contacting aren’t getting back to you. Here’s how to approach references if they are unresponsive so you can move along with your application process.

Double-Check the Contact Info

The first thing to do is make sure that you’ve got the right contact information. Things change, and there’s always the chance that a reference has a different email, phone number, etc. If you haven’t been in touch with a person for more than a couple of years, it’s definitely possible your contact info is outdated. If you suspect this is the case, do a search on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn or any other relevant online resources. Often this will produce the results you need.

Reach Out Once More

If you’re sure you used the right contact info and haven’t heard anything in three business days, go ahead and reach out to your reference again. They may be busy and simply haven’t had the time to respond. Don’t be a pest about it to the point you’re annoying, but an additional, polite email explaining your situation is acceptable. Ask them to let you know either way so you can keep things moving.

Look for Different References 

Let’s say that after double-checking the contact info and reaching out twice you still haven’t heard anything. At what point should you give up and look elsewhere? Generally speaking, if you haven’t heard anything after a week, it’s safe to say you’re not going to get a response.

It’s hard to say exactly why, especially if you left on good terms, but it’s time to move on at that point. Try to get references from other people like old managers or anyone else you feel would be suitable. Just be creative and do the best you can to extract a reference from your existing network.

In a worst-case scenario, tell the hiring manager you would be happy to let them contact your current manager once there’s an offer in place.

Dealing with unresponsive references puts you in a difficult position. But by following these steps, you can hopefully find a quality reference that will help you land the job you’re applying for.


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