Wednesday, March 26, 2014

"What? You want my references now?!"

You want my references now?!”

Recently I saw a posting for an interesting “social justice” job on Facebook. I tracked it as it appeared on Twitter, Tumblr, the Seattle Times, LinkedIn, the University of Washington Daily and distribution far and wide on Google.
Considering the times we live in we can presume that the company offering this part time position will be swamped with applicants.
In their posting they said applicants needed to submit a resume, letter of intent, four writing examples and three references.
A generic email address was offered with a warning that phone calls regarding the position would not be entertained.
Who knows where the documents are going or who is going to read them?
A number of Seattle companies have outsourced the collection of applicants information to unnamed companies who determine who gets in the finals. Who knows how that works!
For those of you reading this who have looked for a job you know your chances of hearing anything after you tailor make your submission is problematic.

More and more employers are asking for references up front.
Why would anyone send in one of their most valuable assets prior to deciding whether or not they wanted to work for XYZ company?
Perhaps desperation to find a job clouds strategic thinking.

Hopefully your application package will get you an interview.
The interview process is not a begging exercise but the opportunity for an applicant to decide if he/she is going to give their valuable time for whatever is being offered in return. You may or may not want to work at the company after you meet the people working there-or get a better idea of what that complex posting description really meant.
Imagine you gave your references prior to deciding the employer was the last place on earth you would labor.
Now what?
Call your references and apologize for wasting their time?
Not a good strategy.
Your references, if they are as good as you think they are, will probably back away under the deluge of calls about your skill set.
Why would you do that to them?
The way it use to work was an applicant would find a position, research the company, get a friend to request all their marketing outreach info, call their competitors, see if you could find anyone who knew anyone there, check out who is on the board, advisory board, who they do business with, so you can get their references, and get a pretty good feel on whether or not you wanted to work there.
The interview is your opportunity to ask all the questions you need answered to determine whether or not you want to full court press them with key references from your quiver of references.
All references are not equal or applicable to all jobs. You need to make a strategic decision on who you want to speak for you and exactly what you want them to say for a specific job with XYZ responsibilities.
Too many people forget that their references need to be protected, respected, honored and not distributed willy nilly to anyone who asks for them.

I offered the above opinion to a number of newly graduated university students looking for any job that will service their debt.
The majority of the group I was speaking with thought I was nuts.
“If you want the job you have to follow what they ask for.”
“Every job at the state asks for references. If you don't give them to them they won’t consider your application.”
Maybe I am nuts?

Comments can be sent to Let Kids Be Kids


1 comment:

  1. Those kids need to take a class in how to think for themselves!