Worst People to Ask for a Reference

You’re this close to a great job, and now the hiring manager wants your references. Who should you list? Not these guys.


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.

Stacy Johnson

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