Giving a reference

There are many forms of business communications; whether it’s employer to employee relations, employee to employee interactions or customer communications. One nice advantage of having a healthy work relationship with an employer – or if you’re the leader, an employee – is giving references.

References are a valuable tool when it comes to advancing in the workplace. A good reference can get you that great job you’ve been spying on, or that promotion you’ve been working hard for. If you’re the manager giving the reference, sometimes it can be as simple as explaining how you enjoyed working with this person and what a great job they’ve done. Other times the reference phone call isn’t as informal, there’s actual structure to it. If you’ve never given a reference before, here are some suggestions that may pop up the next time you need to.

1. Company Policy – what is it?

You’ve agreed to be a reference. Before you take that call, check out your company policy; what information are you allowed to give out? Some companies don’t allow details of employee duties such as certain performance details, missing work or tardiness, etc. If you want to give a stand up review with nothing holding you back, you can always write a letter of recomendation instead.

2. Don’t get personal

This is obvious, but don’t get into details regarding the person’s personal life; marital status, age, religion, etc. Stick to what they did best in the workforce. Getting personal may jeopardize their chances of getting hired, and may cause a rift between you and the employee. Trust could be broken, so stay clear of any personal tidbits.

3. Know the person!

Make sure you know the person well enough to give the reference in the first place. Remember; your credibility is also on the line. If you are unsure of the employee’s work habits, and you don’t have actual knowledge of their skills, you could end up hurting rather than helping. You will also be looked upon as someone who’s either passed on a good reference to someone who ends up doing well, or poorly. Make sure you feel comfortable!

What are your reference tips? Email me at


About releaseyourvoices

Release Your Voice with Pamela Hart: Public Speaking training based in Vancouver BC. We offer training seminars, oral presentation skills, corporate communication, private lessons or group training
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