How do I give someone a reference?

Friday, July 4th, 2008 - Uncategorized


Often, as a recruiter, I ask candidates to provide me with references – whether the potential employer asks for them or not. The reason for this is that you get a better view of the whole candidate, over a simple interview and test approach.

In the modern world, most references are done by telephone interview, and last around 10minutes – hearing a tone of voice is better over a managed letter.

But, the thing that always amazes me is that the reference person is often more nervous than the candidate! So, here are a few tips on how to warm/be a reference for someone.

For Candidates seeking references:
First of all, candidates pick your references. I know this may sound strange, but honestly I don’t want to talk to your dog walker or cycling buddy. Pick people who you have ideally worked with, or known for a long time and that you keep in touch with. Secondly, brief them – from my point of view, there’s nothing worse than dumping your best friend in it, to end up with a bad reference. Thirdly, don’t pick people you can’t give a full briefing to – why you are looking at leaving, why you think this job is great.

For referee’s:
If you are the reference point, then firstly say thank you and then: think! Say no now if you have a doubt over later. Secondly, give the candidate a set of details on which the reference taker can contact you – yes, employers do become suspicious if you give too many references. Thirdly, prepare – I often just jot a few notes down on when we meet, and the candidates history, and the date of the last time we worked together/met. Finally, you can refuse to answer any question – there is no right/wrong/have to question!

Referencing is a good way to get a view of a candidate, and as a reference point you have nothing to lose – hey, they may even offer you a job opportunity (around 15% of candidates for a recruiter come through referencing)

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