Worst People to Ask for a Reference

CBS News names some folks who probably won’t help you get the job you want…

A non-work friend or very temporary co-worker. A reference should be someone who knows you and your work well. “Avoid using someone who did not work with you directly during your regular day-to-day job or on a special project,” says Heather McNab, author of “What Top Professionals Need to Know About Answering Job Interview Questions.”

A current co-worker. This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. If someone who you work with is discrete and supportive, they may be your best reference, particularly if you’ve been at the same place for awhile or have a limited work history. But if you have other choices who are just as good, use them.

Someone with a bad rep. Think about your reference’s possible relationship with the company and how their name will be perceived by the recruiter.

A loose cannon. Clearly, you don’t want to ask for a reference from someone who doesn’t like you or didn’t give you favorable reviews when you worked for them. But also be careful of asking people who love you but have a tendency to speak off the cuff or say inappropriate things, says Cheryl Palmer, founder of Call to Career, a consulting firm.

In short, avoid people who overshare (loudmouths), undershare (acquaintances), or just don’t understand the concept of sharing (jerks) when you have other options. The article goes into a little more detail, but you should get the point. And remember: even a reliable reference can be a bad one if caught off guard. Be sure to stay in touch with your references and give a heads up.

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