All job offers are made subject to a satisfactory reference. So it goes without saying that providing referees who will give a satisfactory reference is vital. But it is not always that straightforward. What if the organisation you worked for no longer exists or the person you worked for no longer works there? It may be that the only factual references are provided that confirm your dates of employment and the role that you held – not much help to a future employer. In my experience personal references are not that sought after so that is not a solution to the reference dilemma.
However, as a recruiter, I am interested to hear from other sources, maybe a member of a team you managed can provide insight to your management style? A colleague can also provide a different perspective on your performance and contribution. If your current manager has only worked with you for a short time, are you still in contact with the previous one? They may now be able to provide a references without the restraints of company policy. How about a customer or other stakeholder?
But how do we manage a situation when an unsatisfactory reference is received and what is considered unsatisfactory? My advice to employers is that if they need clarification or further information, they should pick up the telephone and have a conversation with referees to understand the context to this. My advice to candidates is pick your referees carefully! We can’t get on with everyone we work for and you would hope that personal feelings would be put aside where references are concerned, but it is not always the case.