I used to run a software services firm, and I still get baffled when a former employee who left ages ago asks me for a reference check or letter. Some big software firms have the worst practices on this. They email my HR a lengthy form and demand it to be filled and returned in a day or two. They set the deadline, not us. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to help an old colleague get a better job. It’s good for the industry to weed out the bad apples. But why should my company waste hours of HR time to dig up and enter the information? The hiring company should pay for it, but they don’t. And if big companies are bad, some governments are worse. They want employment references for skilled immigration.

I was reminded of this today when I got a message from an ex-employee. He worked for me 18 years ago for four years and he needed a reference letter in a specific format. He was kind enough to draft and share the letter with me. But I don’t work for the firm anymore, so I had to direct him to the current management.

What I don’t get is this: why do big companies and immigration services need a reference letter when employees have other documents to prove their work history? They have pay slips, bank statements, provident fund deposits, offer letters, promotion letters, relieving letters and experience letters. If these are not trustworthy because they can be forged, how reliable is a reference letter given decades later? It makes no sense to me!

Tell me your stories of being a reference letter seeker or giver. How did you handle this, or did it go?

Australian Computer Society - Example Employment Reference

Australian Computer Society – Example Employment Reference

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