Author Topic: Being a Reference  (Read 1962 times)

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Bwoodbury

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Being a Reference
« on: Mar 14, 2013, 01:01 pm »
So I am interested in advice about being a reference. In particular, what do you guys do when someone asks you to refer them and you're not sure you want to?

KMC

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Re: Being a Reference
« Reply #1 on: Mar 14, 2013, 03:24 pm »
You need to be honest with the person asking for the reference.  I've been in the position before where a former colleague asked for a reference for a stage management role (I'd only worked with him in other capacities, never with him on the stage management team).  I explained to him that while I'd be happy to act as a reference to his technical abilities, I had a few concerns about X, Y, and Z as it relates to stage management.  I further explained that I wouldn't bring those subjects up but would be honest if I was asked.  He got quite flustered, was frustrated, and went off on me a bit that I wouldn't just give blanket positive statements.  I was actually relieved he acted that way as it reinforced the concerns I explained to him about managing in the first place. 

Based on the fact that you're asking here, it shows some concern.  I would be open and honest with him/her, but it's your reputation - put it on the line carefully.   
« Last Edit: Mar 14, 2013, 03:26 pm by kmc307 »
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MatthewShiner

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Re: Being a Reference
« Reply #2 on: Mar 14, 2013, 08:23 pm »
Be honest from the start.

I have created rules for myself I need to work with someone on multiple shows or at least six months.  This blocks a lot of casual references.   The only time I will give a reference after one show is for interns.
If I dont feel comfortable giving a reference on someone, and they ask just be honest and quick, saying I dont feel comfortable giving a reference based upon our work together.  You can put it as softly as you want but that should be the gist of it.

If someone lists me as a reference, and I dont feel comfortable giving a reference, the standard (and I think legal) thing to do is just confirm dates of employment and position.  If they ask any other specific questions, you can say simply, I dont feel comfortable commenting on their work.  If you are not enthusiastically giving a recommendation, its understood they probably should not be hired.  (Also, a little note probably better to give recommendations over the phone then email . . . )

If I end up getting a call about someone, and I am not sure if they are right for the job, especially if it is a younger stage manager, I will ask about the position.  I try to figure out what they are looking for, so I can try to see if the person asking for the reference, in my opinion, has the right stuff for the job.  I find that although sometimes I am not able to offer an enthusiastic recommendation, I am able to give a weighted one.
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Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

chadparkerla

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Re: Being a Reference
« Reply #3 on: Mar 14, 2013, 08:44 pm »
Well, I've been a manager before and I can certainly help with this:

1 - I'd advise against a reference in writing unless you've worked with someone a long time. Even then, stick to the facts. What did they do for you, and how well did they do it. Don't make future statements. (ex. "I'm sure he will be great for you.") unless you have facts to back them up. The exception to this might be interns, you often have to submit a written report on the conclusion of an internship. At least I had to in IT.

2 - If you've only known them a short time, do talk over the phone but not in writing. Tell what you know, but never guess (positive or negative). Stay factual. For example, you can say you saw someone working on a light board, and they did well for your show. You can't say how good they are at lighting in general. If they were an intern, you can talk candidly about what you saw them do and, especially, how quickly they learned. As their supervisor, your position is to comment on their learning and improvement. (I've had to do this in other fields.) For interns, nobody expects them to be perfect, but people do want to know about attitude and learning. When working with interns in IT fields, I kept a checklist of the skills they demonstrated, and how those skills improved during their time. That helped to make these reference calls easier.

Hope that helps,

Chad
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BayAreaSM

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Re: Being a Reference
« Reply #4 on: Mar 16, 2013, 01:56 am »
I was asked to be a reference once for someone who was my PA. I agreed, as I really liked the work they did as my PA. When I got the call for the reference, I kept speaking about that person as if they were applying for a similar job. The conversation felt strange and I finally asked what position they were applying for. I was told it was for the PSM of that theater. I said I honestly could not give any recommendation either way (positive or negative) as I had not worked with that person in that capacity. I could only speak to their work as a PA and their (wonderful!) personality.

The old saying, "If you can't say something nice..." don't agree to be their reference. Matthew gives a few great examples. I honestly can't think of a better one than what he's listed.

I will say that I was asked by a former intern to write letters of recommendation. I was not pleased with the intern at all, so their letter was basically a listing of their job tasks and if they accomplished them or not, and how long we had worked together. I didn't color the letter with any emotion, but I will admit, it was incredibly bland and just read like a To Do list. I wish I could've come up with a way to say No. At least in a request for a written recommendation letter one could always say, "I'm sorry, but I don't have the time."



Bwoodbury

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Re: Being a Reference
« Reply #5 on: Mar 18, 2013, 01:43 pm »
This is all really helpful. Thanks! The short story: someone recently asked me for a reference that I had only worked with one one 3 month contract and I honesty wasn't impressed. But I think in a couple years, with a little more experience, they could be great. So, I don't want to totally shoot them down now, but I also don't want to vouch for them just yet. I like Matthew's 6 months or multiple show rule. I think I'm going to put that into practice.

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