Sometimes a person who has performed poorly, for whatever reason, will have what, on paper, appears to be a sparkling list of references who either don’t really know the candidate or, if they do, know him or her only slightly. (What the job seeker is doing is betting that the prospective employer won’t bother to check those references – and, in truth, many times that’s true. As a result, sometimes faking it can be a successful ploy for a job seeker with a less-than-desirable work history.)
The other extreme to which many marginal performers will go is to ask friends and relatives to pose as job-related references who, if called, will make only glowing comments about the candidate. (It is precisely for these reasons that references should be checked and insightful questions asked to make sure the person at the other end of the phone really is a valid reference.)
By contrast, job seekers who have performed well should be happy to provide the prospective employer with as many work-related as requested. If the job seeker has done a good job and the people with whom he or she has worked know it, why wouldn’t the job seeker want them to serve as references?
If you’re the prospective employer, remember that it’s the candidate’s job to come up with appropriate references who will discuss the candidate’s past job performance. That’s just a fact of life for people seeking employment!