EP 1166 Should you . . . or not. Jeff Answers for you and explains why?

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So, this was about references. When I get references from people, when I talk with people, sometimes, they make the mistake of putting their references on their resume or providing a separate list of references. And to recruiters, this is true of both agency and corporate recruiters, those references are like “red meat” to them. Let me explain why.

When you provide a reference, agency AND corporate recruiters are often thinking of this as someone they should network with and maybe recruit for our jobs. So, they start getting distracted when they start noticing that, “Hey! One of these references fits this job I have!” Then, they call them up and segue the reference check into another candidate. So, you get lost in the shuffle while they start fixating on the other person.

Sometimes, people also make the mistake of not clearing with their references that it's okay to provide them and they just stick them on the resume. That puts your current manager in a bind when they get a call out of the blue. They now know you are looking for a job and will be out of the organization. So, they have to start looking for a replacement for you because you've already signaled them that you are going to be leaving.

With agency and corporate recruiters calling references, even if you have some admonition not to call until we get to offer stage or whatever that you have there, recruiters still do it anyway.

Maybe, they don't wind up doing it by saying, “I am going to check a reference on Ramesh or Jane,” but they call up and they say, “I’m doing a search for a client and heard some nice things about your work want to talk with you.” Again, you're lost in the shuffle while they get focused on this an individual.

Also, I want to mention that when you get to the point of an offer, and you believe references are going to be checked, you want to get an idea of what they are going to say and how they are going to say it. Tell them not to get all sorts of confessional about imperfections in you background. You are not perfect and neither are they. So, tell them to give you great rankings so that they do “the 1 to 10 scale,” you want them to say “10” which I don't want anyone to really say, I want them to say, “9+.” In this way, it doesn't look like they are a rigged reference. It looks like they really hold you in high regard.

“Why would you write that person a 9+ and not a 10,”

“10 is perfect to me. This individual isn't perfect. They’ve got a couple of imperfections; everyone does. I don’t want to fixate on the imperfections but, like everyone, they sometimes a mistake. So, I give them a 9+ plus because their work is extraordinary.”

Isn’t that a great way to respond?


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for what more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1100 episodes, “Job Search Radio,” “and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice” and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

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