Giving a personal reference can be hard – how do you word it, what is the potential employer looking for, what happens if I say something I shouldn’t? More people are asking for personal references these days, so if you get asked by a colleague, how can you turn them down nicely when you just don’t want to do it?
You might work somewhere where people are always on the look out for the next job. Maybe they don’t get on with the boss, or don’t like the workload. There’s usually a need for them to send details of their line manager or HR team for a reference, but these tend to be short and to the point. So what happens when you get asked to provide a personal reference for a colleague? You might jump at the chance of giving a reference for some people – they work hard, help others out and work well with the wider team. Any company would be lucky to have them. But what about the other workers? The ones who never want to stay late or put much effort into their work. You don’t want to lie or misrepresent their skills to a potential employer, but they are not the easiest people to turn down. Read on for tips on how to avoid being dragged into giving them the reference!
Tell them you can’t provide a reference which touches on all aspects of their role. You might work alongside them for one aspect of a project, maybe planning, but can’t assess their budget management skills, or time management skills. Maybe their planning and organising skills for the project were amazing and really helped keep things moving, so maybe you’re happy to give a reference based on those skills. But that’s not a well rounded reference – be honest and let them decide if they still want to use you.
I’m not sure I’m the best person for your reference. Maybe your co-worker is a slacker and you don’t rate their skills, or maybe you just don’t interact with them enough to be able to speak on behalf of their strengths. Lets be honest, it’s not going to be easy to tell someone you can’t give them a reference because you think they’re rubbish at their job, so why not simply say you don’t feel you have the best knowledge of their skills and experience? That way, the no is about your interaction with them – you don’t have the required knowledge to provide an accurate reference that would help them to secure a new role. No one wants a vague reference as this won’t help them land the new job.
I’m not sure I’d have the time for that. Tell your co-worker that your schedule out of work can be really busy and you are bad at returning calls or personal e-mails. You’d hate for their new role to be delayed or pulled because you forgot to call back the company or write up that reference. It’s not a lie, as you will actively be avoiding calls from unknown numbers and you have a pretty good filter on your e-mails, so you’ll make sure you don’t get that call anyway! But, it would be awful for your colleague to miss out on an opportunity because your time outside of work is so busy.
It can be awkward if a colleague asks for a reference, and if you’re not good at saying no, then follow our tips to make things a little less uncomfortable. If you let them know in advance you can’t provide that reference, they have the time to find someone who can, and you avoid the call asking for information you don’t want to give out!
So, what’s this got to do with The Wage Shop?
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