Nameless references are becoming ever more commonReferencing used to be a be straight forward matter of providing factual and background information on a former employee but now that every hiring decision is so crucial we are all being asked to 'secret reference' both those we worked with and those we reported to and that brings up a whole new series of issues.
What is the right thing to do when the reference agency rings and says as you worked at x company you must know John Smith who was there at the same time as you.
It is fine if you knew and admired him but what if you know he was a weak leader who took credit for the work of others and is entirely unsuited for the role he is being considered for.
This is Wanda Goldwag's checklist
1. Refuse to give feedback unless you really knew the person well, it is very unfair to give a reference on someone you saw occasionally or only in unusual circumstances like the annual company conference.
2. Insist on understanding exactly what the role on offer is, your ex-colleague may have been a success or failure but if this is say an international role and you only worked with them in a UK setting you donít have enough information to really comment
3. Be clear about who will see this reference and how anonymous it will be - if it will become obvious that you are the source of the reference ensure that you can justify what you say
4. Remember people change, so be clear about how long ago and in what context you knew the person
5. Lastly remember that if you are the source of an incorrect reference be it too positive or negative you damage your own credibility