One of the most difficult obstacles some people face when looking for work is to supply a current work referee that can provide information about your knowledge, skills and how you fit in to the workplace. This is especially true for people who have been retrenched and their supervisors have also lost their jobs and moved on. This is a more complex issue.
But what about the jobseeker who believes their referee will give them a good report and a year later finds out they have actually been responsible for their unsuccessful job applications. They may never know or they may find out too late and have lost valuable time. The longer you are unemployed the harder it gets to find a job. In fact the referee may not even been aware that his referee report did not sell the applicant to the satisfaction of the prospective employer.
In one case I discovered that a referee gave such vicious vindictive report that I believed the jobseeker had grounds for legal action. The jobseeker had regularly checked in with his referee and was told that everything was fine and he was friendly. There had to be an explanation as to why the jobseeker had such positive interviews only to be told he was unsuccessful, and this led me to check myself.
Not all bad referee reports are deliberate. Being someone’s referee is a very responsible undertaking and the jobseeker needs to be sure their chosen referee is in their corner. The two parties should speak about their obligations to each other and put in place a process on to how it will work for them. The jobseeker needs to be confident that the referee understands that their report could get them the job or be responsible for them losing it
Referees should be nurtured. In the first instance they should be provided with the jobseekers resume and a list of the type of jobs that are being targeted. They should also be made aware of any skills the jobseeker had that were not utilised in his/her last job. When a jobseeker gets and interview they should provide the referee with the job description and his/her job application.
My policy is to advise jobseekers to leave the referees name off the resume and state that the referee will be provided at the interview. There are many privacy issues related to naming a referee and contact details on resumes. Many referees do not like their names and details being readily available to all and sundry. Ideally you should have two referees that an employer can contact if possible.
When it is all over and you land your job you should provide the referee with a gift of some sort. Maybe a good bottle of wine!