A friend of mine that was recently laid off has been applying for positions online, and has followed up with former managers and colleagues who are telling him the same thing: HR has made it clear that no recommendations in writing are permitted by former coworkers or managers.
My friend is frustrated because many of the online applications he is filling out have a “references” section. Truthfully, I was suprised he was giving out references before he obtained an offer.
Here are a few things to keep in mind. Just as you should not put your references on your resume, you do not want them on any online applications. You *only* want your references to be contacted when you are seriously in contention for a job. Putting them into databases makes them targets for marketing and sales cold calls, which most people don’t appreciate and could jeopardize their willingness to be a reference for you.
When you *are* at the stage that you need your references, very often they are willing to have a *phone call* with your potential new employer. Many companies have strict policies against giving references for co-workers and managers in writing, but when I am checking references I often find that people are willing to answer questions over the phone.
So get cell phone or home phone numbers as well as personal email addresses when you are approaching your colleagues. Ask what they prefer as far as contact method. And above all, respect their privacy and requests.
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