Sunday, January 24, 2010

Negative Job References?

I got a call earlier this week from someone who was worried about the fact that there was a significant amount of friction between herself and her former boss. Regardless of the fact that this person had a good relationship with her subordinates, the ‘love’ was not there when it came to the relationship she had with her boss.

To ease her fears, I shared with the caller that organizations are reluctant to give anyone calling in to check references anything more than a ‘tombstone’ reference i.e. name, rank and start/end date, due to the fear of being sued.

I also shared with the caller that it was silly to ask someone for a reference unless they actually worked closely together and had a positive working relationship. The idea that anyone would supply the names and contact information of those who would not say positive things about you is completely foreign to me.

The purpose of a reference check is to confirm that you, as the candidate, can deliver what you claimed you could deliver during your interview. This kind of information is more likely to come from a long-term colleague or mentor/boss than from your last employer’s HR department.

Once you have established that your future employer has decided to proceed with your application and has asked that you provide references [usually 3], there are a couple of things that you should do to make the next phase of the hiring process go more smoothly:
  • Take the time to prep your references. Call each of your references and let them know that they should expect a call from [insert the name of the company and/or the hiring manger at the company]
  • Supply your references both a copy of your résumé as well as a copy of the job description
Job-seekers should know that hiring managers are looking to and will rely on information they find on the Internet just as much as they rely on the information they receive from names and numbers you have supplied. Job-seekers/knowledge workers can now show their work, provide connections and validate what they have done.

When it comes to seeking employment, competencies are important, but hiring managers believe that past performance is the best predictor of future success. Know that every presentation, every article, blog comment, article, white paper, press release, egroup posting (if RSS is turned on) that involves you is now on the Internet and therefore in the public domain. When information is in the ‘public domain’ and it cannot be deleted. All web content is available and always archived.

Know that Google now defines who you are and it behoves you to make sure that all of your future employers only see you in your best light.