Busting the Myth - Job References [Article]


Are you putting too Much Credit in References???


Hold On, I Am Blowing the Doors OFF this One!!!!


I am constantly amazed and stunned by how much credibility interviewers put into job references today.


I frequently hear examples like the following...



"But the candidate came with amazing references, they couldn't say enough great things about them. I why they did not work out for us.


The Code...



Let’s think about this for a moment. What did you do when you picked your references for jobs you applied for?


I know what I did, which is the same thing most of us do. I thought about my friends and the people I had worked with whom I had a great working relationship.


Then, I thought about the ones that had the most impressive titles. I called them up and asked if I could use them as a reference.


Followed by them saying some funny remark like, “Really, I didn’t know YOU had from jail already, ha, ha, ha.”


Then, I’d give my friend background on the job I applied for and maybe some ideas of what to focus on.


After a quick chat about the family, I’d say thanks for the favour. And end the conversation with, “Oh, and lunch is on me next time.”






The Rules of the Code


The rules of the code are easy and well understood. If someone asks for a reference and you agree, you give a great reference.


Generally, we say whatever we feel help that person land the job.


, we are nice people and we act with the best intentions.


There is nothing wrong with this, yet, in reality, it doesn’t serve you or your organization well.



What About A "BAD" Job Reference???



One time I received a reference for a candidate.


Which, my " senses" told me something was NOT right.


Through some personal connections, I found out the EXACT opposite was true.


The person giving the reference was doing everything to prevent losing their valued employee.


Which, I have to admit, after hiring the candidate, I probably would have considered doing the same. The kid was an absolute rock star.



You Can Be Sued!!!





Many people still are not aware of this... Yes, it's true, for giving a bad reference.


This is a growing trend and is now why getting references is more difficult than ever before.


Many organizations now refuse to give references due to liability and privacy issues.


So keep that in mind.


(Bill C-6 of 2000, Privacy Legislation Government of Canada)




Is Everyone a Saint???




A good friend of mine who has been in the H.R. profession for over 40 years and a winner of the "H.R. Lifetime Achievement Award," probably said it best...




I have done thousands of reference checks over the years and not once have I had a legitimate bad one. 


Statistically, that is impossible! Not every person on this planet is a saint?





My Closing Thoughts


In the past, references were a great way to get to know your candidates. I found them and would put a great credit in them. But, sadly things have changed.


Many H.R. professionals including our own, don't bother with references anymore.


If you choose to still rely on them to help make your decision. I recommend that it has a 5 to 10% weighting in your decision-making process.


Remember - Watch Who You Trust!


Be cautious when putting your organization at risk on the word of a complete stranger. Keep in mind they have absolutely NO vested interest in your business.




I really hope this helps you.


Take care, and remember, "we are all in this together."  





Author: Shane


Proud Founder of Employer Solutions Inc.


Copyright 2019






Being in business for over 35 years now, I have seen and experienced the devastating effects of bad hires.


I have dedicated my life to helping others, Hire Faster - Smarter- Easier.







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