I guess it does help weed out people who might not have a single person that would say something good about them. For most people though, I would think that nobody is going to put down a character reference that is going to say something negative about them.
I have pretty much used the same people as references for the last 12 years or so on applications and security clearances. They are going to say I'm the best thing ever spawned on this earth even though opinions and reality may slightly contradict that.
I've never had a position where I had to hire people so I was curious if anybody could shed any light as to just how important those character references actually are ?
As you might have surmised they are worthless. In the almost 25 years I was involved with recruiting or staffing directly or indirectly, I only had one person supply a reference that downchecked him.
Now when you start talking about certain fields or levels of management, maybe, NOPE those would be professional references and not character references.
You have to be REALLY careful about references.
If you ask someone "Will you be a reference for me," they may say yes despite the fact that they can't give you a good reference.
Always ask something like "Would you be able to give me a positive recommendation letter for..." or "May I rely on you for a positive reference if I list you on my applications?" They will most likely be truthful.
Well, I'm also not going to put down a professional reference that is going to say something negative about me either.
I really wish I could have used my previous manager as a reference. We worked well together for 4 years and frankly I was sorry to leave the company and dept (left for school). Sadly, as my manager he would have gotten in a lot of trouble for saying anything but verifying my job there. I guess it goes both ways though.
I don't understand personal references for most jobs. Your references are your work history. I am a good worker, but I don't know anyone, as I'm not a very social person. Yet I'd be rejected because of that alone, apparently because I can't schmooze.
Like it or not, its all about networking
Most employers do not call them,if you want a state job in ND they WILL call them.
For a job in business or something, sure. For a factory job, running machines? WTF?
With a little skill you can get the refference to give you the real dirt on the person. When interviewing I routinely dig up dirt that the applicant probably never wanted to see the light of day.
I have also found information on applicants that shows them to be a far better applicant than I thought.
I got the job I have now based on good character and professional references from my former boss and co-workers. So yeah, I think it does matter, at least at some level. If you work for the state of North Carolina, they WILL call your references.
Same for the State of Virginia. We have to check the referrences that are put down.
The references I look for are referrences from supervisors and co-workers. If your co-workers AND your supervisor have good things to say about you, then odds are you were a good employee.
I feel like references are almost customary but most employers won't use them unless they are between two people or what not and want to find something that separates the two. When I did hiring for my store i'd only call up if things didn't match up right with time periods working or if it just looks shady. So my guess is they mean nothing. Like you said the people you choose are going to give you a positive reference.
I'm working on two different State of Florida application packages from seperate agencies right now. One requires four character references that cannot be relatives, former employers, or supervisors in addition to a complete work history. The other only requires a detailed work history, no character references. Both of these are detailed supplemental packages that will be used for background investigations.
I just found it interesting that these character references were important to one agency but not the other. Doesn't really matter, they can check up on me all they want
It makes a big difference if you call up the character references, and one answers "What yo want? Who dat? Oh, yo meanin' Badass. Yeah, he one righteous dude, ya know? He be needin that job fo real cause he like owes me buncha money", and the other one responds to a prospective employer "Yes Ma'am (or Sir), James and I were Eagle Scouts together and we have stayed best friends for twenty years".
You have to be careful of what you say if you really don't think
the person who gave you as a reference would be a good employee.
That's when it's best to be a LIAR.
Lexicon of Inconspicuously Ambiguous Recommendations (Ways to
handle those tricky situations! )
You're called upon for an opinion of a friend who is extremely
lazy. You don't want to lie --- but you also don't want to risk
losing even a lazy friend.
Try this line: "In my opinion," you say as sincerely as you
can manage, "you will be very fortunate to get this person to
work for you."
This gem of double meaning is the creation of Robert Thornton, a
professor of economics at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA.
Thornton was frustrated about an occupational hazard for teachers,
having to write letters of recommendation for people with dubious
qualifications, so he put together an arsenal of statements that
can be read two ways.
He calls his collection the Lexicon of Inconspicuously Ambiguous
Recommendations. Or LIAR, for short.
LIAR may be used to offer a negative opinion of the personal
qualities, work habits or motivation of the candidate while
allowing the candidate to believe that it is high praise, Thornton
explained last week.
Some examples from LIAR
To describe a person who is totally inept: I most enthusiastically
recommend this candidate with no qualifications whatsoever.
To describe an ex-employee who had problems getting along with
fellow workers: I am pleased to say that this candidate is a
former colleague of mine.
To describe a candidate who is so unproductive that the job would
be better left unfilled: I can assure you that no person would be
better for the job.
To describe a job applicant who is not worth further consideration:
I would urge you to waste no time in making this candidate an offer
To describe a person with lackluster credentials: All in all, I
cannot say enough good things about this candidate or recommend
him too highly.
Thornton pointed out that LIAR is not only useful in preserving
friendships, but it also can help avoid serious legal trouble in
a time when laws have eroded the confidentiality of letters of
In most states, he noted, job applicants have the right to read
the letters of recommendations and can even file suit against the
writer if the contents are negative.
When the writer uses LIAR, however, whether perceived correctly
or not by the candidate, the phrases are virtually litigation-
proof, Thornton said.