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  • Laura De Veau

Acting as a Reference is More than Being a Reference

As I have moved forward in my career, I have been fortunate enough to be asked by many individuals to serve as a reference for them when pursuing a new job. I do not take this responsibility lightly, and I am always glad to be able to assist in these important times in a person’s life. We do not enter into job searches lightly. Perhaps it is time for a challenge, a move to a new location, an increase in salary, or, perhaps it is time to move on. Regardless of the motivation behind it, I always take time to speak to the person about what is motivating this move, why they are hopeful to get the position, and what they will need to do to succeed.


I also ask them for a copy of the job description as well as their most current resume.

For those who have served as a reference, they are aware that today, it is typical that the reference process can swing from one extreme to the other. I have had reference checks that have gone on for over 30 minutes asking me for details on an individual’s ethic of care, and I’ve had a web-survey with eight questions to be scored on a Likert scale. While the act of giving the reference is important, the role of acting as a reference is more so.



It is important that the person who has asked for my word to know that I not only want them to land the next job, but I also want them to be prepared to thrive. Should the person be successful in landing the job, I always offer to take time to discuss what they can do to position themselves for success in their new adventure. What education and training they may benefit from and give them my impressions of the priorities that seemingly have been set forth by the organization performing the reference. Often, the employer will provide some insight into the challenges and priorities that the individual will be facing. I am often surprised by how open employers may be with me about challenges that the new employee will be facing. Not sharing this information would be unfair to the individual, and I make no hesitation to do so.


As you consider your role as a reference, consider that you are not only helping the individual get a job, you have an opportunity to help them be successful in their new professional home. Remember, they wouldn’t ask you to be a reference if they didn’t trust you in some way. Nurture this relationship and respect the role of serving as a reference, because remember, it is your name on this venture as well. Why not be sure this new employer is getting the best in their successful candidate?

Fortify Associates, LLC

Laura A. De Veau, Principal

PO Box 590690

Newton Centre, MA 02459

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