How Important is Your Reference?

Over the years I have worked with many people. Some I’d give a good reference for and others who I hoped wouldn’t ask. I never gave a bad reference But, I started thinking about what I say and how that could potentially affect this persons job. What if my honesty was the reason they didn’t get the gig of a lifetime? How much of is weighted on your actual reference and what you say to their potential new boss? Can you say too much? Is it possible to not say enough? How do you know?

I cannot help but wonder if my glowing reviews have been the reason for some of my friends to not get that one job they thought they wanted. When I honestly talked about how creative, reliable, responsible, and awesome someone is, is that too much? Could it be that the new potential boss thinks I am fibbing? Are they looking for reasons to disbelieve? I never have been able to tell. And still to this day, each time someone asks for a reference I get nervous on the phone! My voice cracks, my palms start to perspire, heart beats rapidly, and I go into the “scared little girl who has a fear of standing in front of the class” mode.

To remedy this the last time I was asked to give a reference {after being told that I was “the Buster Posey of the squad” }, I simply used social media to try to make myself calm down before returning the call. I looked up the person online and did a little research. I realized that by getting to know this person made the conversation feel a little more real and relaxed. I gave my same glowing review because this person who used to work with me is just that: awesome and deserving of glowing. And, totally unsurprisingly, he was offered the job.

The whole reference thing can be a bit scary, much like an interview or review with your current boss. Knowing more about who that person is can ease the pain and calm the nerves. So, if you find yourself in this situation,  I definitely recommend a little Facebook or google search to do a little digging first.


How about those business references?  Have you ever had a company that you enjoy working with and love their product? Of course, everyone has. Have those businesses asked you to give them a reference t a new potential client? It’s not too common but it is becoming less rare. I have a company that I work with and of course I agreed to speak with the new potential client about their product and business practices. What I am curious about is: how do these people know I am not being dishonest? Not that I would, not that someone would, but why do they trust the “reference” when they don’t know me from Adam? In a day in age when social media and word-of-mouth is the way to go, why is a reference from a stranger still as important as it was before there was call waiting? I suppose it is what we are used to and it’s “how it’s always been done” so it cannot be wrong.

I know when I am working on hiring a team person for my job or hiring a company to perform a task for our company, I rely on those I know. Just like I did when I needed my computer fixed, I went to the one person whom I trust, who knows computers and asked where he goes. It did not matter how far away this company was because I trusted my source. I would never rely on a stranger.

I wonder, how much longer will we rely on someones reference to make our decisions? With social media and the powerful tools we have at our fingertips, it seems like we wouldn’t need to look to a stranger for answers when we could type in a name and find out everything we would want to know about someone.

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