I recently read this article from the Standard about why we need to alert referees/references listed on our resumes before attending an interview and found it ludicrous on at least two counts:
- It’s not scalable – most people not only list multiple references, but they apply for multiple job opportunities at any given time. (Cast your bread upon the waters.. you need a job, right?) Sending out the ‘red alert’ for every instance becomes unmanageable and, frankly, annoying after a while.
- Smart employers don’t care (unless you give them reason to) – you will be evaluated primarily on the work that you’ve done and what (results) you have to show for it. If a potential employer seems to be placing a lot of weight on your references, think again. Priorities, priorities.
I think of references as falling in roughly two categories: professional (people you’ve worked with or have been involved in your academic/career development – employers, graduate adviser, professors, TA) and social (grandma, teh roommate, soccer bud).
Which of these groups will your future manager at Dream Co. likely contact? That’s right, the pros. The social references are more likely to embellish your traits if called up to bat. Soliciting their input is simply asking for it, and you will probably get served with what you want to hear. And then some.
Now, do we even need to have references listed on the resume? No, I don’t think so for two reasons:
- It’s not relevant for helping you secure an interview, which is the purpose of the resume.
- Privacy. You have no control over who gets to handle the information in your resume so no physical addresses, emails and phone numbers.. for now.
I don’t list references on my resume, unless explicitly asked for in the job application, to the extent that the application will not otherwise be reviewed or considered complete. At this point it’s smarter to succumb to the administrative red tape.
Most employers serious about their recruiting utilize background checks to perform due diligence on candidates, sometimes in lieu of reference checks. In most cases this does suffice as they tend to reveal more of what the references don’t.
When should references be produced? If needed, only on demand request and even then, they should only be of professional affiliations.