Archive | February, 2008

What do your references say about you?

18 Feb

I had a great discussion yesterday with a candidate of mine about references.  I asked for his permission to check his references and asked him some typical stupid question like – "What will they say about you?"  I got a typical answer like – "they will give a good reference."  I have heard that type of generic response many times before as well and not thought twice about it.

For some reason, it struck me this time – You really should know what they will say about you.  Do you know what your references will say?  Really.  Do they just give dates and titles or do they say more?  What would they say your strengths are?  I know you don’t have weaknesses so that won’t be an issue.  Did you get along with co-workers?  Hmmm.  Would they rehire you?  If not, why?  I think you should know and deserve too.  After all, your career rests in their hands, most of the time.  Doesn’t it?

So next time, you ask someone’s permission to use them as a reference – why not mix in a "By the way – what do you typically say when you provide a reference?"  I think you want to know.  For instance, does a previous employer of yours have a policy against rehire?  Imagine the reference checker getting a "No, we would not rehire, Joe" but doesn’t follow-up with a why or why not and fails to ask – "Do you have a policy against rehire?"  That would suck.

I am sensitive to the fact that it might be slightly uncomfortable to say – "Hey, former boss/dear peer – what are you gonna say about me when given the chance?"  I think what I am saying here is we need to scrap the whole notion of asking permission for a reference(let this appear to be the purpose of the call) and take it up a level to say – "Hey, I am interviewing for (said new job) and I know they are looking for (keys to said job) when you get a call could you say (this stuff) about me."  I think the real purpose of that call is to say "I am counting on your reference to help me not hinder me in getting this job" – without saying that.  I believe that call will make your point.

References are not about hearing glowing remarks of your past exploits.  References are about your new employer sighing and knowing they have nothing to worry about.  I am proposing you have a hand in that process so you will know they have nothing to worry about.  I like that for you.


Why Aren’t You a Passive (no let’s make that) a Selective Candidate?

6 Feb

I don’t like the word passive.  Selective is probably the better word.  Are you a selective candidate?  You should be.  You should get your resume updated now, keep it updated and immediately declare to yourself you are a selective candidate for the long haul. 

I am not a selective candidate, I am a loyal employee.  Let’s talk about you in a minute.  So now we have the selective candidate, the loyal employee, and let’s say the active candidate.

I think these are the only category headings available for those working or desiring to work.  If you have planned your retirement party, are retiring from your company in the near future – you are not one of these three, best of luck, stay healthy, enjoy your retirement – we are all jealous of you.  Thanks for your service.

Back to you three people – the selective, the active and the loyal.  I love the term loyal employee – had someone say it to me the other day.  I think loyalty is an admirable quality.  I hope your boss returns the loyalty as well and they probably do.  Could your boss take care of you? – not would they want to – but could they take care of you?  As an employee, you don’t set the tone for loyalty.  Everyone has a definition of loyalty and unfortunately with all the changes taking place in work environments today – loyalty is an elusive moving target.  Loyalty is really only as good as today’s end of business.

I hate reading what I just wrote – we want to think we are different, our boss would never do that, my company is solid and I am secure.  Are you serious?  I have known high level executives who should have known what was going on that were not privy to key business decisions, mergers, all that.  Aren’t most of us are being directed by folks with golden parachutes who have some level of security?  It is what it is. 

Since job security is fleeting aren’t loyalty and his entourage right behind?  Ask 54,000 Ford employees?  Freaking Ford – didn’t they invent the car?  Shouldn’t they have been stable?  How does that happen?  People.  Lack of inventory control.  Union BS.  Retirees with out of control benefits.  All those reasons.  I had a friend who once told me an American auto manufacturer actually had like 200 or so different types of gas pedals.  200?  I am not kidding.  Stupid.

I think the horse is dead now – you need to be a selective candidate, you need to listen when a recruiter you can trust calls, you need to keep the resume updated because you don’t know what is going on in the board room, behind closed doors, or in the mind of one individual.  One quick story – I had a client whose company headquarters moved for only one reason – the new CEO wanted it to happen.  It did.

Get your resume updated – you can be a loyal employee and a selective candidate.  You do not want to be an active candidate.   


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