What Are References—Really?

You Need a Reference Policy in Your Organization to Inform Your Employees

Black businessman using telephone to check references at his desk.
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References are people who are familiar with some aspect of your life and are willing to share what they know with another person to derive a benefit for you. A reference also refers to the content of the information, insights, and experience that another person is willing to share about their relationship with you and their experiences of your work.

In relationship to recruiting employees, and thoughts on how well an individual performed in a particular job. You might also gain information about how your candidate and whether the employer would hire the individual again, a very telling question.

Establish a Policy about Providing References in Your Organization

Your company should establish a policy about who can provide a and under what circumstances. You need a second policy that identifies guidelines for and others who may receive requests from employees and former employees to provide a reference. to these requests?

References are checked by potential employers, financial institutions, professional associations, clients and customers, and any organization that deems checking and ethics important. When you designate a list of references for a potential employer, the employer may or may not contact them.

The employer may instead, or in addition, contact anyone who appears on your as your supervisor, your former manager, or an earlier job's company owner. Or, the employer may approach contacts and colleagues they know personally, or people their contacts know in your industry or professional association, to obtain references.

The employer's options in learning about your job history, your work contributions, and your ability to interact professionally with work colleagues are unlimited. Once , you are giving the potential employer your permission to contact anyone who can shed professionally relevant light on your previous job performance.

References are provided either verbally or in writing. References are personal, professional, or employment-related. Generally, you ask people to serve as your references when you believe that their shared comments and information about you will have a positive impact on your goals.

How to Appropriately Select a Reference

Selecting references is challenging. You want to select people who are positive about you, articulate in their ability to talk about your contributions, and willing and available at short notice. Maintain positive references throughout your lifetime to ensure the .

References are potentially powerfully positive people who can . References are often the final step before you accomplish your current objective. In your job search, as an example, the only spends time contacting references when he or she wants to confirm that you are the person they need for their open position.

Your references and your relationship with your references can make your day. Don't treat references lightly.

Types of References

Employment References: People who are familiar with, and can speak positively about your work. The best employment references are your current and former bosses. Colleagues, customers, and other managers are also effective references.

Professional References: People who are professional colleagues can serve as references. You may share a professional association membership or leadership position, have worked on a committee together, or organized and led the neighborhood condo association, as examples.

Personal References: People who know you and your personal life well. Personal references are often friends, fellow volunteers in social situations, ministers or other clergy members, and colleagues who know you both personally and professionally.

Delivery of References: How Do Your References Tell About You?

Written References: Written references are difficult to acquire and are quickly dated and inconsequential. Many employers refuse to provide written references for fear of eventual litigation. This is why so many organizations now refer requests for written references to their Human Resources offices; these offices usually provide and little more.

Many employers ask their employees to refrain as well; written references have a short shelf life but many recipients use them well beyond the time frame their writer intended.

You'll want to try to obtain written references from employers who are going out of business, or moving to another company, college professors who may not stay closely in touch with you, and colleagues with whom you expect little interaction in the future. Other references are more effective delivered verbally.

Verbal References: Verbal references are informal and you might expect more cooperation from your current supervisor and other important references when a written reference is not required from them. Many people are willing to discuss your strengths if you . They wish you well and hope that your next professional or career moves are successful.

Always in advance for a potential reference check. They can't help you if they don't know what you need. Especially , employers do check references more and more often.

Develop References While Employed

You'll want to develop employment references, professional references, and personal references while you are currently employed. Scrambling for references when you find yourself in the job market unexpectedly is the worst time to find and develop references.

Your attempts to reach people, prep potential references for a reference check, or bring an acquaintance or colleague potential reference up-to-date on your current situation and goals is difficult and time-consuming during a job search. Develop your references before you need them—and periodically stay in touch with them.