Given the nature of my position I am in, from time to time, I am asked to be a referee for someone. Here are some thoughts on this:
- If you are putting someone down as a referee ask their permission first.
- As someone who writes references, I find the fact that the practice nowadays that jobs are offered ”subject to references” very unsatisfactory. As far as I am aware historic practice was that references were considered before making any offer. But now not so. So if someone has the job offer withdrawn they know that it was the references that precipitated this and that could well have been your reference. This puts much pressure on writing the references. Previously everything would be considered, including the reference, before the applicant was communicated with regarding their success or failure with their application. I suppose one way round this is to say to a person who you feel you will give a negative reference to that they should go to someone else. But this raises its own issues.
- Overall I so very often find doing a reference to be a great heartache. I am bound to be truthful, my conscience before God binds me to that. However, I want to help the person to further their career and get the the job. My practice, as a rule, is to get them dome asap. Having them hanging around can lead to all kind of mental anguish. In all this I so very often wrestle with whether I have sacrificed the truth in order to be seen to generously write favourably about the person.
- Everybody has plusses and minusses in their charachter and abilities; you want in writing a reference to accurately reflect these whilst helping them progress in their lives.