Do potential employers actually check with your references in the modern industry?

Doing some reading about references in the modern workforce. Apparently, office-based companies are contacting and checking out people’s references less and less these days, and it’s beginning to be considered a more archaic kind of thing.

I was wondering how that system works in the offshore and bluewater world… Do captains and shipmates actually get contacted for recommendations? Are references the big deal they used to be, apparently back in the day?


Varies from company to company. I have had some employers that have checked up on my work history with former co-workers I listed as referance.
Some of it probably depends on how quick they need to fill the spot.

I agree. It depends.

Larger companies will often only confirm the dates of hire, salary, and drug test results.

Some small companies are bitter enemies of competing employers and they won’t call each other.

Many managers at regional companies know and like each other. They are friendly competitors and some times work together on projects. Over the years office and seagoing staff often rotate between they companies. While HR at one company might not tell HR at another anything except date of hire and salary, when port captains, operations managers, and even captains call each other it’s a different story. Some don’t care what company policy is, or what the lawyers advise, they will tell each other directly about an applicant. For example, we really hated to lose him, or we would never hire that SOB again. Some will talk in vague sounding but commonly understood code. For example, anything positive means hire him. Sorry I don’t have time to talk now means don’t hire him. I’ve lost touch with him can you give me his cell number? Meaning, if you don’t hire him I’m going to. Etc.

Most companies just go through the motions. A lot of company manager references won’t talk the call or call back, unless they know the person calling. HR just needs to document that it followed the proscribed script.

Recruiters usually call all the former employers and references. If someone won’t talk to them, the recruiter may call you and ask you to call them and request that they speak with the recruiter. Recruiters will also often tell you that someone was a great reference, or that you should drop an uncooperative reference.

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Also depends on how bad they need to fill a slot. I’ve seen companies hire someone just so they can put their license in the rack

I think past employers are indeed hesitant to comment. What I do consider is the connection of the applicant to the listed reference. A listed reference from the last/current employer is a plus. That none of the references were supervisors or employers if the applicants is a negative - one may be a legitimate issue, but when I see that no one the applicant used to work for is a reference, I start seeing big red flags. In Federal job applications, they ask if it is OK to contact a past supervisor and I’ve even seen two where they said “no” to contacting the past supervisor, and I was the supervisor they didn’t want contacted! (of course, I didn’t contact that supervisor… nor did I need to). On the other hand, when a current employer gives a glowing reference, I can’t help but wonder why they want to lose that guy…

Good point. Some employers give good references to enable an undesirable employee to become someone else’s problem as fast as possible. Its much better to have someone quit than to have to fire them.

Some applications ask for people you’ve known a long time, but you are not related to. Some ask for names and phone numbers of supervisors. Some companies won’t let past supervisors talk to anyone, only HR.

In general for mariners, I don’t think references mean much unless they are from people that the owner personally knows. In many regions, most managers and mariners, know a lot of other managers and mariners.

The best references are usually people you have worked with before who now work for the target employer.

I was working on a drillship and the 1 a/e called down and asked: “Hey, do you know fatdumbfuck? He went to school around when you got out.”

I told him yeah, that guys a real piece of shit, don’t bring him out here. He called me back later and told me: “Everyone else said the exact same thing you said, I guess we’re going to keep looking for someone”

They just called up guys onboard who had been to school with the guy. I had someone onboard who could vouch for me when I got hired on.

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I thought in drilling they ask who they are related to?

They aren’t allowed to ask that anymore. Now they gotta ask who your favorite college football team is.

If you answer: “Roll Tide” you’re a shoo-in for a floorhands job.


Geaux Tigers!

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I just got phone service and had a voicemail waiting from a tug company looking to hire a former coworker wanting a reference.

in the rest of the world they need to show you proof the punter has agreed for them to ask a 3rd party.
Google just learning about giving away your data in the EU now

Some of the Bayou HR guys are friends and call each other even though the companies compete. I personally know a few of them and have gotten calls about crew I worked with. I work for the Department of Defense now that required a FBI background investigation and it took while.