Can’t get a reference? Read this!

So your old firm(s) won’t give you a reference.

This is a growing trend as recently reported in the media. More and more companies are refusing, as a matter of policy, to give references. What’s a candidate to do?

Some have suggested asking for “personal” references from past colleagues. In my view this is still problematic. If a manager working for a company knows that the company does not give references is that manager likely to then ignore that policy and provide a personal reference? I think it unlikely.

The best defense available lies with LinkedIn. LinkedIn provides you with the ability to collect  recommendations from people that you have worked with, for, and others like customers or suppliers. In fact, LinkedIn’s system is more flexible in that it is not confined by the usual rules of reference giving.

The trick is to ask for recommendations on an ongoing basis so that when you need them, you already have them. This is not a perfect solution, but as more and more companies use LinkedIn as a recruiting resource they will be more amenable to accept LinkedIn recommendations as a substitute for references. It certainly is preferable to saying that you can’t get references at all.

So don’t wait. Start asking for LinkedIn recommendations today. Even if you never need them you’ll be no worse off, and you’ll improve your LinkedIn profile as a bonus!