In the October 12, 2010 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a reader asks:
I have two questions about references. First, I would like to use my current boss and co-workers as references. What’s your advice about that? Second, some companies actually expect references from a current boss. Do I have to provide these?
Here’s the short version of my reply. (You’ve got to subscribe to the weekly newsletter to get the whole story!)
This is a sticky topic. Your current boss and buddies at work might be your best references, but if you let them know you’re interviewing elsewhere, that could jeopardize your current job.
In a moment, I’ll show you how to launch references preemptively, rather than just provide them when an employer asks.
But first let’s take your questions one at a time. You can indeed ask people you work with for references, but you must accept the risks. Once management finds out you’re job hunting, you might be tagged as a dissatisfied employee and if there’s a layoff, you could wind up at the top of the termination list.
Must you provide references from your current company if another employer asks? Absolutely not, for the same reasons we discussed. The new company has no right to put your present job in jeopardy. If you prefer not to provide such references, you can and should decline.
Now let’s talk about how to use your best references by launching them before the employer expects it. I once landed a job I really wanted by using a Preemptive Reference. I didn’t wait for the manager to ask me for references. Before the manager even knew I existed, I arranged for a credible mutual contact to pick up the phone and recommend me. Other than my abilities, that call was what convinced the manager both to interview me, and to hire me on my terms.
Since then, I’ve taught job candidates how to do that, and I’ve used the approach to influence people to do business with me. A recommendation from a credible colleague can make a manager want to hire you before you even apply for the job.
(That’s just part of the newsletter. Don’t get stuck short next week — Sign up now for your own free subscription!)
Smart employers check references. But there aren’t a lot of smart employers out there. Too many will make a hire without checking out a person’s reputation. When an employer asks you for references, who you gonna call?
Sometimes it’s all about who calls the employer before you even apply for the job.
How do you use references? Ever have a reference “make or break” a job offer for you? Has a reference ever torpedoed you?