Job Reference –> Minimum Information Needed

2010-02-01 Initial Posting

The other day, a former coworker asked me to be a reference for him and I obliged. I took the initiative and asked him to send me the job description, his resume, and some thoughts on how I should approach the interview--I usually send the same info to people whom I ask to be my references.

The recruiter called me this morning and she asked me one question that I wasn't prepared for. She asked my why my former coworker left the company where we had worked together. I knew that he was fired, but I wasn't sure if he told her that, so my response was that he was looking for something closer to home.

After the interview I e-mailed my former coworker to let him know that the recruiter called me and informed him of the issue I had with that one question. It turns out that he told the recruiter the truth, which now seems odd because I basically told a white lie for the job seeker, while he told the truth.

Anyway, I made a mental note to myself that a reference should also be told why the job seeker left his or her last job (or the job where both the reference and job seeker had worked together). So here's a checklist of the minimum information that the job seeker should provide to references to prepare them:

  1. The same copy of the resume sent to the recruiter.
  2. A summary of the job seeker's responsibilities at the company where the job seeker and reference had worked together. Some time may have passed, so it's good to remind the references of what your job responsibilities were and what you accomplished.
  3. Some direction on the angle to approach certain questions. For example, if the job is for a management position, then the reference should focus more on management qualities when answering questions.
  4. This is what tripped me up today: Why the job seeker left the old company (or at least what was the reason the job seeker gave the recruiter).

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