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I will start working at a new company very soon and I am excited because it is my dream job. They have previously made me an offer and I have accepted it, and I have signed the employment contract and mailed it back to them.

Now they have contacted me to request details of a referee at my current place of employment.

I want to know if this is the usual way of handling things, and what they could ask my current employer so close to my start date. Although part of it is curiosity, I am mainly worried about the likelihood of the offer being withdrawn and whether I should continue applications with other companies.

I was under the impression that the employment contract with both my signature and the company director's signature were final, but I am not so sure now.

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    I think it may be that he hasn't handed in notice/set a start date for the new company, and is wary of handing in notice and thereby severing his current job security, with a risk of a bad reference. It's not meant to happen, but we've all heard of bad references given out of spite. – Jon Story Jan 12 '15 at 13:51
  • I start in a week, so I've already given notice a few weeks ago. It just seems very close to the start date to me. Joe is also right, a lot of people have left in a short period of time due to friction with management, who I directly worked with and would have given me good references. I'm worried that my reference from management would be bad, to keep me there, but that wasn't my primary question since it's already been asked and answered. – user31931 Jan 12 '15 at 14:36
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This is fairly standard procedure, they have to check at some time...

The offer was likely made subject to you passing reference checks.

Assuming that you haven't lied on your application, it's really just a formality - your new company is checking with your last company that you really worked there for 1/2/5/however many years you've claimed to, and that you really did have the role and responsibilities you claimed. Basically, they're just checking you're telling the truth about your past.

The assumption being that if each company checks the previous one (or two), then there's an unbroken trail back through your employment history. Or, at the very least, they've got the most relevant information.

The offer won't be withdrawn unless there's a fairly serious discrepancy or problem, and I'd assume you would already know about that if it was likely.

  • Typically the offer is a separate piece of paperwork to the final agreement/contract - it's not unusual for references to be checked after an offer is accepted, but it is unusual that they didn't check references before issuing the final contract to be signed. – HorusKol Jan 12 '15 at 22:29
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    In my experience it's not at all unusual, there's a clause in my contract that says I'll be released if I've lied about my educational or employment history, so the company is covered either way. If the reference states I've got performance issues, the company also has a probation period during which they can release me anyway, if they see issues. – Jon Story Jan 13 '15 at 10:01
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I once got a call for a reference after the applicant had started the job. It seems that they needed to dot the 'i's and cross the 't's in the paperwork, but forgot to do the references until someone reviewed the file few weeks later.
Although in this case I think it may have been dot the 't's and cross the 'i's :-)

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