Job Hunting Tips

Ask Manda: Personal versus Professional Job References

Posted by John
min read
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A professional verbal reference is a vital supporting ‘document’ can be even more valuable than your resume. Why? It provides an objective assessment of your technical skills, but even more importantly, your work ethic and attitude, which any prospective employer will tell you, can outweigh nearly everything else. The information is obtained from an independent third party, not you or your recruiter. 

A verbal reference also allows the person speaking to the referee to hear the inflections in the referee’s voice, whether there are pauses, whether they are animated or maybe even cautious, which assists the recruitment consultant or the prospective employer in forming their hiring decision. At people2people, the references are also recorded (with the referee’s permission of course) so the hiring manager can hear the referee’s comments first hand. A transcript of the conversation, if requested, can also be provided. 

Whilst some organisations now have a policy not to provide a professional reference, they still provide a statement of work. This verifies your work attendance, your responsibilities and the period of time you worked with and reported to that employer. Personal references are still used, however more commonly for private and not business situations, eg school enrolment. If you are at the commencement of your working life and career, you may not have access to a previous employer to act as your referee, however, you may still have lecturer, teacher etc who can provide information regarding your attendance and punctuality. 

What is important is that you ask and receive permission from your previous managers to act as your referees, this gives them time to put their thoughts in order. I have interviewed candidates who have their referees listed on their resumes and when I advise them I will be calling their referees, the candidate informs me they haven’t asked for their permission. You can imagine the shock a referee can get when they receive a call.

Have a question for Manda Milling, people2people Director? Let us know in the comments or tweet @p2pManda!