Survey Reveals Job References That Backfired

    TORONTO, Feb. 11 /CNW/ - Finding a job in the current economy is no easy
feat, especially if your references are less than glowing. The Creative Group,
a specialized staffing service providing creative, advertising, marketing and
web professionals on a project and full-time basis, recently surveyed 250
advertising and marketing executives, asking them to describe the most unusual
reference checks. Among the responses:

    -   "Someone used her mother as a reference; needless to say, she had not
        worked anywhere with her mother."
    -   "We learned from the reference that the woman we were interviewing
        liked to go barefoot all day."
    -   "The reference said the prospective employee had difficulty getting
        to work on time."
    -   "We talked to someone who said the applicant didn't like the industry
        in which she was trying to get a job."

    "In this current hiring environment, it is imperative for job seekers to
do everything they can to secure excellent references," said Collin Maria
Ezzell, division director of The Creative Group. "The strongest references are
those who can speak enthusiastically and persuasively about an applicant's
merits, not necessarily those with the most seniority or impressive job
    The goal, of course, is for your references to sing your praises, not the
other way around, as these responses indicate:

    -   "I checked the reference, and the fellow just started laughing. He
        could not believe that he was a reference."
    -   "The person said the candidate was hyper and off the wall."
    -   "The reference said the candidate fell asleep during work hours."
    -   "According to the reference, the candidate was very insistent on
        making his own schedule and rules."

    Some references were quick to point out a candidate's unique qualities but
may have chosen the wrong ones to emphasize. For example:

    -   "A reference told us the person had 17 pets that he'd need to
    -   "A professor recommended someone who was really smart, but mentioned
        that the person was never seen wearing anything but flip-flops."
    -   "The reference went on about the candidate's favorite music, bars,
        social endeavours, etc."

    Honesty is essential in the job hunt, a lesson some candidates learned the
hard way. For instance:

    -   "The reference had never heard of the person."
    -   "The candidate said she'd worked for a specific agency, and we found
        out that she didn't."
    -   "I was told that the candidate didn't do the work he claimed to do
        during the interview."

    The Creative Group offered these five tips for creating a solid reference

    -   Identify your biggest fans. Always ask permission before using
        someone as a reference. Pay attention to how quickly and
        enthusiastically people respond to your request. This "self-reference
        check" can help you identify the best options.

    -   Be ready to offer a few extras. When short-staffed, many hiring
        managers are pressured to move quickly, and if your contacts are
        unavailable, you may miss out on the job offer. Consider providing
        more references than are requested.

    -   Make it easy on the employer. Provide clear contact information,
        including names, titles, daytime telephone numbers and e-mail
        addresses, for your references along with a brief explanation of the
        nature of your relationship with each person. It's also helpful to
        note the best times to reach each of your contacts.

    -   Give references a "heads up." Each time you submit a reference list
        to a prospective employer, let your contacts know so they are well-
        prepared. Provide them with an updated copy of your resume, and
        describe the company and position you have applied for, as well as
        the name of the person who might be calling them.

    -   Express appreciation. Always thank those who agree to speak on your
        behalf - even if they aren't contacted by hiring managers. Also,
        keep them updated on the status of your job search.

    Ezzell added that it is increasingly prevalent for employers to do their
own research to learn more about applicants. "While it is important for job
seekers to actively manage their references, all former colleagues and
managers could be asked to provide a recommendation," she said. "It is wise to
maintain a good relationship with past co-workers as they may be influential
in your future job search."

    About the Survey

    The national survey was developed by The Creative Group and conducted by
an independent research firm. It is based on 250 telephone interviews - 125
with advertising executives and 125 with senior marketing executives. The
Creative Group has offices in major markets across the United States and in
Canada, and offers online job search services at www.creativegroup.com.

For further information:

For further information: Kristie Perrotte, (416) 350-2330,

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