6 People You Should Never Use as a Reference

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Sometimes, it’s hard to figure out who to list as a reference. Ultimately, you need to select people who can speak to your professional abilities in a positive manner, as the information they provide the hiring manager is a crucial part of their decision-making process.

That means, there are certain people you should never include on that list. With that in mind, here are six people you should forgo listing as a reference.

1. Anyone Who Fired You

While it seems obvious, it’s still worth saying: anyone who fired you should never be used as a reference.

Generally, a manager who terminated your employment won’t have positive things to say about you in the workplace and may be inclined to be honest with the prospective employer about their experience. Even if the reason you were fired wasn’t related to an infraction or issue, such as when it just isn’t a great fit, it is best to avoid using them as a reference at all costs.

2. Someone with a Bad Reputation

Whether their reputation focuses on their performance or their attitude, such anyone who tends to bad mouth their coworkers or company,having such a person speak on your behalf may backfire. Essentially, there is an inherent risk that you will be considered guilty by association or, at a minimum, anything positive they have to say about you won’t carry much weight.

3. Anyone You’ve Never Worked With

Unless a purely personal reference is requested, you should only list professionals with whom you’ve worked. This ensures they can speak to your skills and performance accurately and based on firsthand knowledge.

Now, it is okay to list people who worked with you as a volunteer or even classmates that you completed projects with if you are a recent graduate. Otherwise,stick to current or former managers and coworkers whenever possible.

4. Someone You Don’t Know

If you have a particular company in mind, and you know someone who knows someone who works there, it may be tempting to ask the inside contact for a reference. But, since they don’t know anything about you, they aren’t going to have much to say. Plus, asking them to put themselves out therefor a stranger may not turn out well, doing more harm than good.

5. Anyone You’ve Lost Contact With

Similarly, if you haven’t been in contact with someone for a few years, then they aren’t the best choice for a reference. First, the can’t speak to your recent experience, and that may not reflect well on the hiring manager. Second, you have no way of knowing what is currently happening in their professional lives, and there may be some factors that are relevant.

However, you can work to reconnect with the person first and then decide whether they make a suitable reference, particularly if the information they can provide is important.

6. Someone You Don’t Know Well

While an acquaintance may seem like a viable option, they may struggle if any of the hiring manager’s questions require in-depth knowledge about your experience or personality. Vague answers may give the hiring manager pause, leading them to assume that the reference is intentionally hiding something.

Ideally, your references need to be able to speak about your experience in a thorough, informed and positive manner, so you need to select people who can do so well. This ensures the hiring manager gets the information they need without having doubts about the quality of your references.

If you are seeking out a new opportunity, the professionals at ASK Staffing can connect you with top employers throughout the area. Contact us today to see how we can help you take the next step in your career.

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