Posts Tagged ‘References’

References ?

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

Many candidates and professionals ask, “Who should I use as references when I am actively looking for a new position?”  The simple answer is any professional who can effectively communicate to your future employer four main points:

1.       Your work experience – your present and past responsibilities

2.       Communication skills  - both written and verbal, public speaking ability

3.       Personality – your drive, ability to handle stress, quick learner, etc.

4.       Work successes and professional goals  - promotions, awards, employee rating

This person should have first hand knowledge of these areas and ideally be your manager, client,  or work peer.  The tough question becomes, “Who to ask when you do not want anyone at your present employer to know that you are actively searching for a new role?”

In this case you must rely on your previous managers, clients and co-workers to act as a reference on your behalf for your potential new employer.  Ideally your relationship with these previous contacts has been maintained by you even though you no longer work with/for them. Ideally you would have worked with these individuals directly within the last five years. 

Of course the best and most powerful reference usually is from a present manager, client or work peer and you should look hard at your present relationships to see if there is anyone who you may trust with providing a reference while not informing anyone else of your intentions.  Your manager is usually the last person on this list but in many cases a co-worker or client can be a good resource. If you are applying for a client service role, an excellent reference from a present client can seal deal for you.  Also think about anyone who has recently left your present firm who may be able to provide a reference for you?


I highly suggest that you always contact anyone who you may desire to put on your reference list and ask for their permission before doing so.  This provides them with an easy out if they either do not want to give you a reference or would give you a bad reference.  Follow up with those individuals on your list and let them know if they should be expecting a call and from whom. If they are expecting a call they will be prepared to talk about you and will also be keeping alert for the call which in today’s business world can be very important.

Students and Recent Grads  Two quick points:



  1. Your parents and family members are not good references unless they have a pre-existing relationship with whomever you are interviewing with



     2.  Excellent references are Teachers, Coaches, Summer Employment Managers, Internships Advisors, Mentors, and Present Managers


In today’s litigious world many companies have policies against providing references to other employers and therefore getting people to provide references except by their closest working relationships has gotten much harder. Many firms specifically tell managers to not provide references and if the managers are found to have provided references this can have an adverse reaction to their own professional career.

To be honest, the truth is that in today’s world many employers do not put a ton of value in references unless they are coming from their own associates or established business relationships, but you must always be prepared to provide a list of references.  Furthermore it is your job to make sure the list is active and correct.