4 people you should never use as job references
Providing references is part of the job search, but there are some people you shouldn't even bother approaching.
Make sure the right people are saying the right things about you.
Evan Banul is COO of Industrial Motor Power Corp. and handles all the company’s hiring. He says he once called three references for an applicant, and each one was a nightmare. The first was the applicant’s “very crude brother.” “After a five-minute conversation of F-bombs and raving about how close they were, I did not get any insight into this applicant,” Banul says.
The second reference was surprised to receive Banul’s call. “The third person I called was their past employer, who shared how if I hired this person, I would be shooting myself in the foot. I had a hard time getting off the phone as they kept sharing new insight into how bad of an employee this person really was. Needless to say, I did not call this person for an interview.”
References can make or break your chances of landing a job, so be careful about who you suggest prospective employers call to learn more about you. Here are some people you should never use as job references.
“We’ve all seen a family member slide their way onto an applicant’s reference section, but the absolute funniest reference I have ever received was someone’s biological parent,” says Timothy Trudeau, CEO of Syntax Creative.
Hiring managers generally assume your parents can’t give an objective view of your work history or how you’ll behave as an employee, so don’t put them down as references. That goes for all family members, as they will most likely think you’re pretty great, Banul says. “We are interested in your prior work experience, work ethic and your moral character. Your family’s opinion will always be biased.”
Anyone who fired you
A reference who fired you will either say nothing at all because they have nothing nice to say, or they will talk about how you were a terrible employee, Banul says. “It is safe to assume that if you did not leave on good terms, then they should not be used as a reference.”
Friends or roommates
If you haven’t worked with your friends, they aren’t going to be able to give the kind of information potential employers are looking for. Sewell Development Corp. CEO Preston Wiley says his company hires a lot of part-time college students. “It's pretty common for people to list people with impressive titles as references who we can easily discover are actually their roommates,” he says.
Applicants should just be honest about who their references are and how they know them, or don't provide references at all if the employer doesn’t ask for them.
Anyone who's not expecting a call
Don’t use a reference who you have not prepared to receive a call from a prospective employer, says Cheryl Palmer of Call to Career. “Good references are willing to help you, but they may inadvertently hurt you if you have not prepared them for the call that they will get from potential employers. You should notify your references when you are going for job interviews, because you don’t know how quickly the employers may call.” Give your references your most recent resume as well so they are up-to-date on what you’ve been doing.
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We discussed the importance of creating an email cover letter in our previous post, Five Steps to a Standout Resume Email, and thought would be helpful to our job-seeking readers to provide some examples to use as a starting point for your next email cover letter.
The examples below come from real-life job seeker emails, although we’ve altered the details and contact information. Whether you prefer a “salesy” approach or you’re more of a “direct and to the point” kind of person, choose the template that suits your style. Just be sure to include these key elements in your email cover letter.
- Mention the title of the position you’re applying for in the subject line and body of your email.
- Explain where you found the job posting or how you heard about the position.
- Conclude with a subtle call to action to remind the hiring manager of the action you’d like them to take, such as, “I look forward to hearing from you.”
- List your full name and contact information in your email signature block (not just on your resume attachment).
- If applicable, quickly explain any questions that your resume may raise. For example, if you’re from out of town but planning to move close to the job location, or you’ve been at your current position for only a short time.
Email Cover Letter Examples for Legal Professionals
Example #1: If you prefer to keep it brief.
To Whom It May Concern:
I am interested in the Litigation Associate position advertised on LinkedIn. I have attached my resume and cover letter for your review.
Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.
Example #2: If you’re relocating to the city where the job opportunity is located.
Dear Hiring Manager,
I’m writing to express my interest in the Litigation Secretary position listed on Monster.com. My resume is attached for your review and consideration.
I am a fast learner, very dependable, organized, and computer savvy. I have extensive experience assisting firm attorneys and multiple paralegals, as well as supervising and managing an office. While I currently reside in Los Angeles, I will be moving to San Francisco at the end of the month.
I look forward to the opportunity to meet with you to learn more about your firm, its plans and goals, and how I might contribute to its continued success. I can be your ideal candidate if given this opportunity. Thank you.
Example #3: If a colleague referred you.
I was referred to you by a mutual acquaintance, John Smith, who said you have an opening for a litigation secretary. I have many years of experience as a litigation secretary, most of them working with managing partners. I am a professional looking for a career, not just a job. I am organized, reliable and self-motivated. I like being part of a team, but can also work independently.
Included with this e-mail is a copy of my resume for your review and consideration. Once you have had an opportunity to review my resume, please contact me if you have any questions or to arrange an interview. I look forward to speaking with you in the near future.
Thank you for your time,
Example # 4: If you’ve been at your current position for less than one year.
Please allow this introduction. My name is Jane Smith, and I have 12 years of legal secretarial experience working with managing partners of small, mid- and large-sized law firms. My current typing speed is 105 wpm from written form and 120 wpm from live dictation with the utmost accuracy. I am interested in the Litigation Secretary position advertised on your firm’s website.
I am currently working for a small civil litigation firm. However, after only 11 months in this position, the financial stability of the firm has significantly changed. Therefore I am seeking long-term tenure with a stable civil litigation firm.
Attached please find my resume and list of references. If you are interested in the professional skills and positive attributes I can contribute to your firm, please contact me at [phone number] at your convenience to schedule an interview.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Example #5: If you want to be dazzle the hiring manager with your qualifications.
Dear Recruiting Administrator:
Do you need a hardworking, creative and conscientious paralegal to meet your firm’s needs? If so, I can help you. The following is a summary of my qualifications:
- More than ten years of progressively responsible legal experience;
- Bachelor’s Degree with Honors in Business Administration;
- Exceptional verbal, written and analytical skills;
- Advanced computer skills;
- Outgoing personality and “can-do” attitude.
I would like to meet with you to discuss how I might assist your firm in fulfilling its present needs. My resume is enclosed for your review. If you need someone who is highly motivated, eager to learn, and willing to work hard to succeed, please contact me at [phone] or via e-mail: [email].
Thank you for your time and consideration,
These examples are meant to be a starting point only – add your own voice, style and experience to make your own standout (or at least solid) email cover letter.
Categories: Career Advancement
September 18, 2013
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