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Types of people you should NOT put on your reference list

Recruiters tend to regularly make reference checks before hiring and this has become a common habit, now more than ever. Since, companies want to hire individuals with certain backgrounds, qualifications, and work experiences; they make it a point to be absolutely sure about the applicant’s qualities, work ethic and abilities. Hence, they turn to the references provided in the CVs to inquire and confirm what is in your resume content. Depending on the types of people you put down in your reference list and their feedback, you can either boost your chances of getting hired or on the other hand, get yourself rejected.

Coming up with a reference list from the outset may seem like a very simple and effortless task. Supposedly, all you’ve got to do is list down the names and contact information of some people from the places you previously worked in and that’sit. Isn’t it? Well, sorry to burst your bubble because you’ve got it all wrong and this can very easily backfire. Here are the four types of people that should definitely avoid putting on your reference list for the sake of your career and you should put these down on your job hunt checklist:

Person you are not well-acquainted with

Although no one in their senses does this, still it is better to state the one unsaid rule of making a reference list before moving on: ‘You must at all costs avoid randomly putting down any references from your ex-workplaces’. Don’t fall into the trap of listing the person with the highest designation or the most experience and connections thinking that it might give you leverage over other candidates and make a good impression. That won’t help you at all, if that person doesn’t know you. It is also foolish to list down a reference which doesn’t really know you well. Since recruiters will ask all sorts of questions that person who in the first place doesn’t know you or was well acquainted with you, will either just make up answers which the recruiters can easily figure out because of their experience or bluntly refuse to answer certain questions. In any case, it won’t end well for you.

Person you haven’t met or contacted within a considerable period of time

Asking for an individual you havenot linked within years,will do you more harm than good. Since, they won’t be updated with your new skills, up-to-date knowledge and work experience,they just won’t be able to ramble about your achievements and what a great person you are. So,avoid them.

Person who hasn’t been in the workforce for the past few years

Firstly, such a reference would be of little value to the recruiters and since your reference would not be in sync with the current ongoing in the industry, they won’t be able to endorse you quite well. It will be a wasted reference which you can otherwise use efficiently and effectively.

Person you never worked with

Working professionally with someone enables them to analyze you properly. Individuals you work with for even a moderate time period can pinpoint exact specific skills that you have, how you respond under pressure, cope with a deadline and what your accomplishments or shortcomings are. Listing someone who hasn’t even worked with you would not please the recruiters a bit. Thus, it is advised that you rather go for someone who worked with you as they can evaluate you better, give a detailed feedback and prove to be a good reference.

It goes without saying that you must not, in any case, refer people who fired you, whom you had a misunderstanding with and who has a questionable reputation in the industry. Follow these points regardless of whether you are job hunting in Pakistan, UK, Canada, UAE or US and you will soon notice results.


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Hashaam Asif is a Luminite, an entrepreneur with a passion for writing and an unquenchable thirst for good reads. He is working as a freelance writer, editor, content strategist, and is pretty keen on raising the writing standards on the web. You can find him here

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