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Posts Tagged ‘References’

Awkward Situation: How to Handle Saying ‘No’ as a Potential Reference

If you’ve ever been asked to be a reference for a top notch colleague, that’s a no brainer. Well, how about a mediocre one or perhaps a lackluster one who needs improvement? It creates hesitation, right?

One delicate reader question in The Wall Street Journal mailbag caught our attention. A family friend asked a reader to give advice to his son. The young man’s gearing up to graduate from college and also has Asperger’s syndrome. The reader tried to be helpful on the phone and gave him advice in an email as well but the reader seeking advice on how to handle the situation ultimately referenced the phone call as “vague…and lacking in social skills.” Read more

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Should You Be a Reference Even if Your Employer Forbids It?

Here’s the thing: Whether you’re a boss or a colleague, from time to time your colleagues may indicate your name and contact information as a reference when they seek a new job.

Normally it would be a no brainer, right? Give a professional recommendation when asked.

Well, it’s not that easy when employers have policies that basically say you can’t be a reference. According to a piece in today’s New York Post, they’re essentially designed to help avoid litigation in case the former employee sues. (That is mainly because everyone doesn’t always give glowing, positive references.) Read more

New Survey Reveals Three in 10 Employers Caught Fake References

If you’re feeling a bit bold and considering putting down a fake reference on a job application, we have one two words of advice: Think again.

According to a new CareerBuilder survey, almost three out of 10 employers caught a fake reference on a job application!  Read more

5 Questions to Ask a Job Candidate’s References

“What do you want me to say about you?”

According to hiring consultant and trainer Nelson Scott, this is typically the first question people ask when they agree to be a reference. How then are managers supposed to get any useful information from them? In the latest Mediabistro feature, workplace experts give advice on how to interview a prospect’s cheerleaders. Below, an excerpt:

“If you were to give her one piece of career advice, what would it be?”

This hypothetical question was suggested by David Gaspin, talent acquisition manager for, who advises focusing as much on imperfections as star qualities. Another example: “Under what conditions have you seen her struggle or get stressed out?”

Junge likes the idea of putting such questions in a mentoring context, rather than just asking for a candidate’s biggest flaws. “Everyone has weaknesses, but most references couch their real concerns,” he said. “Asking a reference where they would focus their coaching efforts gets to a similar place, but is far more likely to produce practical, actionable feedback.”

For more, read What to Ask a Job Candidate’s References. [subscription required]

Three Tips to Providing References

Looking for a job? You’re not alone. So, as you pound the pavement and network your way into a new gig, there’s one thing that may go overlooked in the process. And that’s the reference.

For starters, if your resume is already filling up two pages and you need to trim it down a bit, you can certainly remove the line, “References available upon request.” Read more

How to Select the Right Person as a Reference

Ah, the reference. We know it all too well. It’s on your job application and even mentioned in your resume. But technically, who should you use?

According to a piece on Recruiter, it “can be a tricky affair choosing the elite few who will give your job recommendation and you must be shrewd and calculating in order to select the perfect candidates.”

Even though you may still be in touch with former colleagues, the piece points out the best references may not come from people you frequently maintain contact with but rather, people who articulate clearly regarding your skills. Choose them wisely.

First, if there’s a connection to your reference and the hiring manager, by all means go for it. This personal connection could lead to greater confidence in the reference’s input. Joshua Bjerke writes, “Getting vouched for by someone who knows how to most effectively speak to the hiring manager may give you the needed edge over your competition. If no personal connection is available, look for people that have experience with the company that you want to work for.”

Plus, select a reference the future boss can respect. This means of course, that you respect him or her, too! Select people as references who are reliable, smart, and knowledgeable.

If there’s any way to get your current boss in the loop, Bjerke recommends going for it. For instance, maybe your group will be downsized and therefore, it’s okay your boss knows you’re looking to leave. In this instance, your boss can say something like, “We wish circumstances were different but here’s why she’s so valuable.”

Remember that trust is the key and confidentiality is important. Even if you select a peer, you’ll have to entrust them with vouching for you with your prospective employer.

If past bosses aren’t on the radar and you’re completely out of options or out of the job market for a while, Bjerke says to “find a respected and active member of your community.” Although the connection is probably more personal than professional, ensure they have a polished persona when it comes to giving the thumbs up to your hiring manager.