Would You Hire Yourself?
Putting yourself through the reference process
In the last six months I have provided over a dozen reference checks for former employees, graduate students and colleagues. Based on my unscientific personal experience, it appears that web-based reference check systems have become more and more the norm with Workday leading the platform pack. Clearly the web interface is more convenient for human resources staff and references alike. It is also quite likely those pesky lawyers got involved in sanitizing the questions in an effort to make the reference checks much more standardized despite being potentially less useful.
Convenience notwithstanding, the reality is I actually find value in having a conversation with the hiring manager or committee chair. I get a better idea of what the candidate may lend to the opportunity and I believe that my responses are more helpful than completing a simple fill-in form. I wonder how soon references will no longer be broadly used, and we will simply find ourselves providing ‘confirmation of employment’. And once a skilled developer figures out how to connect an individual’s Verified LinkedIn profile to Workday hiring software it will be done automatically.
Reference checks traditionally had value, and if we reframe it I believe they still do. Consider this:
What would your references say about you - especially at this moment in your career?
Would you actually hire yourself?
Do you have desire to find out?
For those who have been at the same institution for an extended period, these may be particularly challenging questions to answer.
Perhaps now, as the academic year is coming to a close, it would be an ideal time to put together a reference check - for yourself. Take out your job description and draw up the same list of reference questions you would create if you were hiring to fill your job. Pair up with a mentor or an executive coach in the development of the questions, and secure their assistance in reviewing what comes back.
Ask supervisors and supervisees for the skinny on you and your work. Be sure to explain the purpose of the referral exercise, and be specific about what the information will be used for. Are you seeking to improve your performance? Position yourself for promotion? Find gaps in your skills?
Be transparent, so those who are giving you a reference are aware of what this exercise is all about. The more they understand about the process, the more likely they are to put forth an effective effort.
Once you review the feedback along with the sage insights of your mentor or coach, you can determine what you may do moving forward to refine and expand on your skills and possibly your mindset. This would be a most useful effort especially if you are going to be welcoming new members of your team. LinkedIn, professional organizations, executive classes and professional facilitators have a battery of resources available for you to build your own curriculum that starts now and takes you into the academic year ahead.
Make it your professional commitment to be someone you, yourself, would be proud to hire.
Dr. Laura De Veau is Principal & Founder of Fortify Associates, LLC. Fortify Associates, LLC is unique in the higher education, not-for-profit, and public service market. They provide comprehensive workshops, program reviews and project management services with a combination of in-person and virtual delivery. Fortify Associates is committed to creating experiences that are unique to the needs and culture of each of their clients. Fortify Associates wants to elevate your organization and help you optimize your workplace. As a Predictive Index partner, Fortify can leverage the power of PI with the knowledge and talent of the Fortify team to create a truly unique set of offerings.