Share:

References by Mail - The LIAR Letter  

 

Dave Jensen
Prominent Maven Moderator
Joined: 5 months ago
Posts: 866
April 23, 2019 11:54 am  

I wonder why in the academic world there is such an emphasis on written reference information from prospective job candidates. We've even seen this cross over to industrial job ads, which read "for consideration, send resume and three letters of reference."

There is only one way to check references, and that is by phone or (rarely) face-to-face. The reason for this? It is much easier to read between the lines when you are actually hearing the way that someone phrases a response to a probing question. In a written letter, it is possible to make anyone look good, and that is sometimes what a supervisor is forced to do when he or she is asked to write a letter of reference for an employee whom they were not particularly excited about. These letters, which in the recruiting industry we call L.I.A.R. letters (Letters of Inconspicuously Ambiguous Reference), can cast a rosy tint on the worst kind of employees. After reading these letters for years, I can guarantee you that anyone, regardless of ability, can provide you with letters of reference.

For any hiring manager here, please think twice the next time you consider hiring someone whose past supervisor writes that "he was a continual influence on all those around him".

 

Dave

Dave Jensen, Founder and Moderator
Bio Careers Forum


Quote
DX
Honorable Maven Registered
Joined: 5 months ago
Posts: 553
April 24, 2019 8:38 am  

HI Dave,

Agreed, but remember, even them phone calls can be a bit of a glorification.  Something folks don't like, but i"m ok with, using your network (if possible and easy) to learning more beyond the provided references.  Can be hard at times to get to a persons true behaviors and performance. 

DX

 

 


ReplyQuote
Dave Jensen
Prominent Maven Moderator
Joined: 5 months ago
Posts: 866
April 24, 2019 11:27 am  

I agree that you have to take a rather slanted view at references. One individual bad reference may not be a deal killer, but when you have several of them -- or several good ones -- that's a trend that should indeed be recognized.

 

Dave

Dave Jensen, Founder and Moderator
Bio Careers Forum


ReplyQuote
Dick Woodward
Reputable Colleague Registered
Joined: 5 months ago
Posts: 255
April 24, 2019 1:19 pm  

I agree with DX about using your network. I had one potential hire who looked very good. Then I checked my network and found that when there was work to be done (at a trade show) she was usually at the pool. Found someone else.

Dick


ReplyQuote
Dave Jensen
Prominent Maven Moderator
Joined: 5 months ago
Posts: 866
April 24, 2019 1:33 pm  

Good comment Dick, and that's what a lot of hiring managers do . . . they utilize their network and rope in a few extra check points to the reference process. Unfortunately, HR and recruiting firms are usually stuck doing references only on legitimate names provided by the candidate. That's OK, and legal. But they are generally always positive. Still, if you ask the right questions (and listen very well for clues) you can actually find out the weak points as well from a listed reference.

 

Dave

Dave Jensen, Founder and Moderator
Bio Careers Forum


ReplyQuote