Thursday, August 20, 2009

Managers won't give reference. Company policy.

Dear HR Store,

I am looking for some guidance, actually for my daughter. Let me give you some background. My daughter is 21, is a business major and has completed two AS degrees and is working on her BS in Business.

She is currently working full time with a CPA. She has been interviewing with a company that has shown great interest in her and the recruiter has even said that they are ready to make her an offer, but they want references from managers that she has worked for. She has contacted two of her previous managers and all they did was point them to HR and said they are not allowed to provide references. The third has moved out of state and my daughter has no contact info.

I say the following not because she is my daughter, but I have watched her and listened to her and have spoken with people she has worked for in the past. All had nothing but very positive things to say about her work attitude, performance, ability to quickly learn, etc. What is she to do? The recruiter / employer is insisting on past references....

Normal One

Dear Normal One,

I do understand that your daughter must be going through a tough time in getting references. But I assure that this isn’t a unique case and there is a work around for this. At least ones that are worth a shot.

Some companies have a policy that doesn’t allow co-workers/managers to give out references. Companies have such a policy to avoid having to deal with legal lawsuits from former employees. In this case, since they are insisting on reference-checking only with previous managers, here are few things I would suggest your daughter could try.

First, she may have already done this. Yet she should call her previous managers and try to explain to them that her current job offer is fully dependent on their reference. I’ve seen that supervisors are willing to give references despite the policy, if they trust you enough and aren’t worried about getting themselves and the Company into a legal lawsuit. If they still insist that she first check with HR, she should at least keep them informed that they could expect a call from her prospective employer. (Note: Prospective employers can call people from your previous company outside of your list of reference).

Second, if the above approach doesn’t work. She should explain the situation to her prospective employer. Tell them that the previous Company has a policy against providing references. Most of them do understand and may only be checking if you are comfortable giving references. Cause whatever the reason they will still approach your previous Company. So, as a next step, she could give the prospective employer the details of her previous dates of service, title and reporting manager’s name (and contact info if the manager is ok with that). Giving out this information conveys a message to the prospective employer that you’ve nothing to hide. They’ll be able to verify with that much data. It may not be much of an actual ref-check, but at least they could get ratings on a scale of 1-10 (it’s a practice that many follow in such situations) from the previous managers.

Third, had she undergone any performance reviews with her previous employer? If yes, she could try and furnish that review document for reference. It will have details of her performance ratings for work she had previously done and might prove helpful.

As for the third manager, is there absolutely no way of finding him? Sure? She could try asking some of her ex-colleagues/other managers/his manager (best chance). I’m sure some of them are in touch with the manager. such situations tells us that it's highly recommended that one stays in touch with previous co-workers/managers (off course, it's a no-brainer that you don't burn bridges).
I guess it’s not late. And if it boils to them taking a hiring decision only after talking to references (I seriously doubt that), then this manager is your best bet.

Good luck with her job search. Hopefully she’ll land a good one real soon.

PS: What should you expect from your references? Read here