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Apr 8, 2016
This article is part of a series called Classic TLNT.

Editor’s Note: Readers sometimes ask about past TLNT articles, so every Friday we republish a Classic TLNT post.

I get calls on a regular basis to provide formal and informal references on people in my industry.

First things first: Reference checks are not background checks.

Reference checks are subjective. Reference checks are unreliable and invalid ways of measuring someone’s knowledge, skills and abilities. Reference checks are what you do when you want to know if someone is a jerk.

Background checks give you facts like name, rank, and serial number. You’ll learn about prior convictions and educational achievements.

3 important rules to follow

The difference between a background check and a reference check is essential. Background checks will tell you if someone has been arrested or convicted; however, reference checks will give you gossip and tell you if someone is an itinerant drug addict.

This article is part of a series called Classic TLNT.