Written Versus Verbal References
When it comes to references, is it best to come armed with a letter or contact number? It certainly doesn’t hurt to be prepared with both written and verbal references.
Things to consider
-Letters are less time and effort for a potential employer to skim through
-A job seeker can slant the letter to be all positive
-Letters look professional with polished grammar and spelling
-You have a hard copy to keep on file
-Letters make it easy to fabricate or embellish information
-Letters are not always timely
-Letters are usually generic with “To Whom it May Concern”
-A potential employer can probe more over the phone, asking about strengths and weaknesses
-A potential employer can focus questions to a specific position or industry
-It’s less time and effort for a reference to take a call
-A reference may be a poor speaker with mediocre responses and awkward silences
-A reference may have a different personality than a former employee, offering a less-than flattering character review
Remember: Companies invest their time, money and reputation in you—if you become an employee. For this reason, they want to ensure you’re the real thing. So go above and beyond to WOW them!
Ask the Experts
We asked the experts what they prefer: Written or verbal references.
“Written references are acceptable
for positions that are more than 5 years in the past. For more recent
positions, a written reference from the candidate’s direct supervisor is
acceptable, especially if they can be contacted for additional information.
With the new Privacy legislation, detailed references are harder to come by, as
a result I believe we will be relying more and more on written references as a
means of evaluating candidates.”
-Kate Laing, Human Resources Manager, Pacrim Hospitality Services, Inc.
“Both. We would like written
references and we’ll call and confirm how well they performed their job, how
long they stayed, their level of responsibility...”
-Tracey Kalimeris, Corporate Recruiter and HR Planner, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
“I would prefer the verbal
references. I like to be able to ask follow-up questions if something the
reference says sparks my interest. But, written will also work if you are
unable to contact the verbal ones.
-Jason Lessman, Manager of Corporate Recruiting, Boston Market Corporation
“Honestly, we do not find written or
verbal references to be very valuable. I have yet to find someone who was
unable to give me references. The best reference we can get is a phone call
from your last employer. I have even had a past manager call me before I could
make the call. It says something to a potential employer when a past manager
feels so committed to you that they are willing to personally call another
employer and speak on your behalf.”
-Randy Goldberg, Executive Director Recruiting, Hyatt Hotels Corporation