One of the more frequently asked questions by people who have worked at the same place for an extended period is how to come up with references, especially if they don’t want anyone to know they’re planning a job change. This can be a problem, but it’s not an unsolvable problem – if careful thought is given to the solution.
Why You Need Professional References
If you have been out of the job search game for a few years, you may not be considering how important having references is. While you may believe that your work experience is enough, many employers and background check companies rely on solid references to make their hires.
From the prospective employer’s point of view, if a potential job seeker says they can’t come up with any references from a place they have worked for years, it might be just as well to continue the search for an appropriate candidate for employment. I’ve worked there for the last ten years, but I don’t have any close friends I would ask to be referenced for me” that would be enough for most prospective employers to keep looking!
While it may be too late in some instances, if you are currently still employed, but searching, try to establish relationships with coworkers that would allow you to use them as professional references.
Using Past Relationships for References
Part of the solution is based upon the assumption that anyone who has worked at the same place for a long time will have made several good friends. If a career change is contemplated, the first step is to identify a list of coworkers who are also good friends – good enough, at least, to be trusted!
The next step is to ask at least three friends and coworkers privately if they would be willing to serve as references. It might even be a good idea to ask references if they could mind being called at home or during the weekend. The only reason for this is if the situation on the job precludes a reference from being able to respond to questions without being overheard by someone else.
Another source of references can include people with whom the candidate has worked within the last three to five years who have taken other jobs, retired, or moved on to another division of the company at another location. The point is it’s almost inconceivable that anyone could work at the same place for five or more years without having made several close friends willing to serve as references.
Why Past Relationships May Not Work
One flaw in the previous assumption is that many companies have a policy against anyone giving reference information about a current employee. You may think that a good friend, who is also a coworker, will agree to be a reference in spite of company policy to the contrary. However, that is not always the case, and it is not a reliable way to gain professional references.
Things to Consider When Listing References
Some may prefer to be called at home by a prospective employer rather than at work. It’s also important for prospective references to understand that they’re not being asked to speak on behalf of the company but just to provide their own opinions about various aspects of their friend and coworker’s job performance.
People who are good friends – and coworkers – usually will serve as references if some accommodation is made so they can speak freely and clearly and understand that their comments will be considered strictly confidential and that they are not being asked to speak on the company’s behalf, but merely to provide facts and honestly held opinions about someone planning a career change.
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