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27 July, 2008 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Career Management, Recruiting
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BIG IDEA: Secondary References Can Be Dangerous

Posted July 27th, 2008 | Author: John G. Self

People like to talk about who they know.  It is just human nature, especially during an interview when a candidate is anxious to impress.

Be careful what you say. You proceed at your own peril.

As soon as you give up the name of a former colleague to an interviewer, you have just provided a Secondary Reference. If this person does not remember you, or if they did not think highly of you, well…you may have opened a whole can of worms that could kill your chances of employment. 

When the recruiters and researchers at my Firm, JohnMarch Partners, ask for eight references (two superiors, two peers, two subordinates, and two personals), we know that, more often than not, all those primary references will speak well of the candidate. So we drill down to the second layer of former bosses, peers and employees to gain additional insight into the candidate’s performance and the accuracy of the accomplishments which were listed on the resume. In days past, candidates would occassionally create or enhance academic credentials.  However, several high profile exposures of this credential fraud have dissuaded most candidates from this folly.  The only remaining opportunity for a candidate to strengthen their hand at competing for a specific job is to create or exaggerate their prior work accomplishments.  No one checks on that, right?  .

Remember, when a recruiter says, “I know people at that hospital or company.  Who did you know there, or who did you work with,” be very careful.  There is a good chance that person will be called as a Secondary Reference.   

© 2021 John Gregory Self

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