You’re probably familiar with the following scenario: While searching for a new job, you’ve done your homework about companies you apply to, refined your resume and presentations skills, and even aced some interviews. You might be nearing a job offer, but one large obstacle remains: The reference checking process.

Realizing that your career could be resting in the hands of a reference, you consider using a friend to check your reference. Your friend would be posing as a potential employer in order to see what a reference would say about you when called by a prospective employer. This tactic may be tempting because it is quick and free, but there are a number of reasons why it’s a bad idea to have your friends check your references.


1. Most Friends Aren’t Reference Checking Professionals

While friends will be well-intended, they will likely act in a manner nontraditional of a prospective employer. They might ask illegal or irrelevant questions, might act unprofessionally, or allow some information to slip that could give away what’s happening. If your former employer or reference finds out you’re using a friend to check your references, it could lead to much bigger problems.


2. States Have Restrictions on Impersonation

A good reference checking business knows all of the legal limitations of reference checking and doesn’t cross any lines. Friends can risk legal trouble for themselves and for you.


3. Your Reference May Convey Subtle Clues That A Friend Might Not Catch

During our reference check calls, we pay close attention to wording, hesitations, tone, and other responses that could be considered red flags. A professional reference checker would likely catch these clues, as would anyone highly experienced with conducting reference checks. An unseasoned ear, like your friend’s, likely wouldn’t.


4. Friend Reference Checking is Not Legally Supportable

If a friend calls and confirms that your reference is saying things that could be damaging to your career, you will have no recourse to use it in court for legal or remedial action. A professional reference checking company provides legally-admissible reports, and can help you stop the bad references from occurring in the future.


5. A Friend Might Not Answer a Return Call Professionally

Should the reference return a call or call back for another reason, your friend might not be in a position to take a reference’s call. It is also possible that someone else would take a return call instead of your friend, or that the call will be answered in a location that clearly isn’t a work environment. A reference who is suspicious might also look up a phone number or check Caller ID, helping them figure out what you’re doing.


6. A Friend Might Hide Negative Information from the Call

It can be hard to relay negative information about a friend, so using a friend to conduct a reference check could lead to sugar coating negative responses.


7. If Suspicious, A Formerly Good Reference May Become A Bad One

If your reference suspects that they’re being manipulated, you could lose their trust and willingness to act as a positive job reference in the future.


Don’t make the mistake of believing a simple call from a friend takes the place of a professional reference checking services such as We confirm that approximately half of all reference checks we conduct reveal some sort of negative information. Make sure your references measure up by using professionals instead of friends conducting reference checks.

About Allison

Allison & Taylor Inc. and its principals have been in the business of checking references for individuals and corporate accounts since 1984. We have successfully built our brand and corporate recognition and have been recommended by industry specialists such as The New York Times award-winning author Martin Yate (“Knock ‘Em Dead Résumés”). Numerous articles have been published about our business in newspapers and magazines including The Christian Science Monitor, The Wall Street Journal, Glamour Magazine, New Woman, Worth, National Business Employment Weekly, The Detroit News, and The St. Petersburg Times.