Thursday, May 21, 2009

Ixnay on bad references


According to the Associated Press’s Eileen A.J. Connelly, most companies still check references you give, although that may be waning a little with the coming of the social networking sites, which they also check (or they may look for your coworkers on a networking site and ask them informally).

I always tell my refs to say I kicked heroin without a program, which probably goes a long way toward explaining why I am self-employed.

Asking someone to give you a reference is tricky. And you should ask. It would be nice to know what they plan to say, but don’t put them on the spot.

Make sure the person knows you well, but also knows your work accomplishments and habits. Think of vendors you have worked with, clients. You could even offer to draft a few talking points if you think the person would appreciate it or be receptive to that.

At least remind potential references of how long you have worked at a place and what you did.

Send a short email to the reference and say someone will call and here is a description of the job and why you want it.

If the person says they are not allowed to get involved, don’t push it.

If you are laid off, ask for a reference letter as you wind things up. Otherwise, people can “forget” or they get laid off, too.

If you suspect one of your references is trashing you, there are firms who will call and see what they say. Might be worth a google.

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