Character Referencing

Friday, May 04, 2012

As a manager, I'd often get asked to be a character reference for a former employee of the company. If you left without burning bridges, I'd would be extremely glad to do it. If not, I'd definitely be the reason why you won't get the job. The point: there's no harm in asking whether I'm willing to do it or not. I will give you a straight answer.

Every time I'd get a call from a company, they ask the same bunch of questions. Rate him/her on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest in terms of professionalism, etc. Sometimes, it surprises me that even employees who left eons ago were still able to get my phone number and put me as their character reference. That's fine, but again, they should have asked first.

In 2007, we hired a lot of people (close to 60) when we had a huge project. Christopher (not his real name) was one of those people. He was put under my team (I was still a supervisor then). To be honest, I barely remember him. Why? A few weeks after training, I found out he was in a whirlwind relationship with another new employee. Two weeks later, they just didn't show up for work until we had to let them go for being on AWOL. I hardly spent time with him as his supervisor so I didn't think I made the slightest impact on his career or his life in general. I was wrong.

About two years later, a phone call woke me up. A competitor was calling me to do a background check for a former employee. Imagine my surprise when the woman on the phone told me it was for Christopher.

Me: Christopher XXXXXXX?
Lady: Yes sir.
Me: He joined our company 2 years ago and went on AWOL. He just didn't show up one day. Clearly, he has commitment issues. DO NOT hire him.

She was sounded really surprised. I didn't really think there's point in lying. Besides, why would I lie for this person who didn't even give a shit about his job or his teammates? And yet he had the audacity to put ME as a character reference? The nerve!

Perhaps the worst of all was this girl name Andrea (again, not her real name). She is perhaps one of the most immature people I've met in my entire life. Everything is just about her. And so you probably know the rest of the story by now. She didn't leave quietly and kept badmouthing everyone at work (not just me) for almost a year since she left. She probably couldn't get over the fact that she didn't get what she wanted and now she thinks running her mouth will get her the revenge she wants.

So imagine my facial expression when I was on a train going north and I got a phone call from another company doing a background check on her. Without hesitation, I told the man on the other line what he REALLY needed to know about that creature. He thanked me for my honest opinion - thrice.

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