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Old 07-15-2013, 08:36 AM
 
74 posts, read 222,885 times
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Hello All,

It is still surprising to me that companies requests references as part of the employment process. It seems very old fashioned. Especially in a time where most background data on the applicant is verified electronically.....for efficiency and maybe helps protect prior companies against litigation.

Would anyone in their right mind, provide a reference that would report anything negative? Does HR staff acknowledge that references provided are based on how the candidate feels a referencer will respond? Of course references will likely be former colleagues and personal friends.

Should personal references be a thing of the past?
Has anyone been informed that they lost out on an opportunity because of a bad reference?
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Old 07-15-2013, 08:41 AM
bUU
 
Location: Georgia
11,881 posts, read 8,658,776 times
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I wouldn't be surprised to find a number of crappy candidates unable to find sufficiently credible references, and as such, those candidates who can stand out above those crappy candidates.
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Old 07-15-2013, 08:42 AM
 
2,349 posts, read 4,474,123 times
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Many( most) employers require that a minimum number be a former manager.
It doesn't hurt or cost anything for an employer to ask. Besides, while most candidates will provide favorable references, a negative reference will send up a huge red flag.

Maybe references are more forthcoming than we think. Maybe they really are honest about a below average candidate - even though he is your buddy.
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Old 07-15-2013, 08:56 AM
 
Location: Western Washington
8,936 posts, read 8,400,927 times
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References are for more than background data, and most background info cannot be verified electronically. There is no central database of start:end dates and salaries. There is no database of work responsibilities or accomplishments, nor is there a repository of punctuality, attitude and responsibility.

References will give good and bad reports, and the fear of liability is far overblown.
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Old 07-15-2013, 09:11 AM
 
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
12,581 posts, read 15,050,467 times
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Many hiring managers use "backdoor" references, or people that they may know, that may know something about the candidate. These are references that the candidate never recommended.
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Old 07-15-2013, 09:14 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh
5,907 posts, read 7,020,437 times
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I don't hire very often, but when I do I've never had any trouble getting useful information from references. I assume they are going to say nice things, but you can learn from what nice things they say if you ask relatively open-ended questions to the people they used to work with.
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Old 07-15-2013, 09:30 AM
 
7,422 posts, read 13,712,016 times
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yeah, i think if a hiring manager is clever about it, they can learn a lot about a candidate from a reference, even if that reference is not saying anything overtly negative.

without references, all you really have is the applicant's experience and education, what they tell you, and the impression they make on you. knowing what they're actually like to work with is an invaluable part of the equation that isn't covered by a resume, interview and background check. references don't cover that gap perfectly, but they can help a lot.

and as bUU said, the references that a candidate is able to provide in the first place says something. if a candidate can't find anyone to say anything nice about them, or can only provide references who are friends & coworkers rather than managers, that is an indication of a problem.

with more and more employers instituting no reference policies, things are changing though. that's something that's been on my mind a lot lately, and you can find me ranting about it in various threads around the forum if you're interested in my thoughts.
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Old 07-15-2013, 10:23 AM
bUU
 
Location: Georgia
11,881 posts, read 8,658,776 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fishbrains View Post
There is no central database of start:end dates and salaries.
A reference who provides information on someone else's salary is an idiot. It opens the former supervisor up to lawsuit according to HR consultants Ann Kiernan and Rita Risser.

Start and end dates actually are typically readily confirmed with calls to the former employer's HR department directly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fishbrains View Post
There is no database of work responsibilities or accomplishments, nor is there a repository of punctuality, attitude and responsibility.
Subjective appraisals which are negative should be objective measures only. Again: Anything you say that you cannot prove objectively can be a basis for a claim for defamation. And what's even more mind-boggling is that giving positive assessments without also including negative facts if any could get you in trouble the other way (though that risk is rather slim).

What's safe is to share one's personal feelings: "I enjoyed working with..." "... was very helpful to me." Again, the main value of a reference ends up being the references a candidate is able to secure agreement to be included as a reference.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fishbrains View Post
References will give good and bad reports, and the fear of liability is far overblown.
It's your choice to take such risks. You're "underblowing" them.
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Old 07-15-2013, 10:39 AM
 
Location: Western Washington
8,936 posts, read 8,400,927 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bUU View Post
A reference who provides information on someone else's salary is an idiot. It opens the former supervisor up to lawsuit according to HR consultants Ann Kiernan and Rita Risser.

Start and end dates actually are typically readily confirmed with calls to the former employer's HR department directly.

Subjective appraisals which are negative should be objective measures only. Again: Anything you say that you cannot prove objectively can be a basis for a claim for defamation. And what's even more mind-boggling is that giving positive assessments without also including negative facts if any could get you in trouble the other way (though that risk is rather slim).

What's safe is to share one's personal feelings: "I enjoyed working with..." "... was very helpful to me." Again, the main value of a reference ends up being the references a candidate is able to secure agreement to be included as a reference.

It's your choice to take such risks. You're "underblowing" them.
I have been giving references, both good and bad, for years. I have been trained by HR professionals at several different companies. I have never had any adverse consequences, nor the threat if any.

As long as the information provided is true and can be backed up, any threat of lawsuit is groundless.

I do take one cautionary step. Most applications have a section where the applicant releases all parties from claims of liability. I simply have that signed statement scanned and sent to me. This ensures that the company asking for references is legit and not simply a jealous ex-wife.
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Old 07-15-2013, 10:41 AM
bUU
 
Location: Georgia
11,881 posts, read 8,658,776 times
Reputation: 8401
Quote:
Originally Posted by fishbrains View Post
I have never had any adverse consequences, nor the threat if any.
An iron-clad guarantee against it ever happening in the future, eh?



Quote:
Originally Posted by fishbrains View Post
As long as the information provided is true and can be backed up, any threat of lawsuit is groundless.
You do realize that that is what I said:
Quote:
Originally Posted by bUU View Post
Anything you say that you cannot prove objectively can be a basis for a claim for defamation.
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