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For some reason, I get asked to write quite a few references for people.
And I’m happy to do that.
But I find references pretty mad, because at the end of the day, who the fuck is going to put forward someone who will write a negative point-of-view on them?
OK, so you can say that a reference allows people to hear how someone else judges their character – and that has merit – but if you’re going to base your decision on hiring someone on whether their mates gave a glowing report on them, then you only have yourself to blame if they turn out to be nut cases.
That said, I try and write honest references, especially when I’ve not worked with the person for 10 years or so.
That doesn’t mean I’m going to be nasty, but neither am I going to give a glowing endorsement to someone I last worked with before electricity was invented.
One thing I find amazing is how easily people are willing to sacrifice their reputation.
I know that must come as a shock to you [and probably to my colleagues] but the longer I’m in adland, the smaller I find it gets which is why one bad move could easily result in the wider industry calling your abilities and cred into question.
OK, so the fact I’m still in a job despite all manner of shit that I’ve pulled in the past means it might not be as black and white as I am implying – but the fact is, if you want to end up being paid for who you are and what you believe as opposed to simply ‘filling a vacancy’, it’s worth making sure the things you say can be backed up because in this back-biting, bitch-ridden industry, it’s very easy for things to come back and bite you on the ass, especially if it involves you recommending someone for a job which is completely inappropriate for them.
Of course there is an alternative for career progression.
You could simply decide to keep quiet, do nothing exceptional except creep regularly to your boss and talk in glowing terms about the company and the senior management because that seems to be a strategy that works very well in big corporations, even if it means you can never look at yourself in the mirror again.
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