While recently working with candidate in preparing their client presentation, I asked for professional references. Standard procedure. This experience reminded me however as to the importance of carefully selecting whom you provide as your references. There are numerous writings on the internet regarding this topic, and I don’t want to reproduce what is already readily available, but instead just take a moment to stress the importance of this part of your job search. This candidate provided high profile co-workers from a previous employer; not only peers but supervisory types of references. The candidate provided references that were in a position to be able to accurately speak to their work product and provide a positive reflection upon the person’s abilities and work they had done at this past employer. Well, they could have anyway. The problem with these references was that the company had a policy against providing opinion, aka: references, regarding former employees. So all these references were basically under a gag order by their employer. So bottom line, none could help. All positioned well to be excellent references if only they could have spoken to me. Instead I only got title and employment dates. That was not so useful.
So I asked the candidate to consider other individuals they worked with at this employer that have since left. That is one possible solution anyway. So we are still working through that but it certainly reminds me of the importance of considering whom you use as references. And in this case, know the company’s policy of providing references. Be certain to talk to each reference to see if they are in a position to be able to provide useful information.
In the spirit of this topic I have included a link to an article on TheLadders.com that adds some additional useful information regarding references. It’s a quick read. Straight and to the point.