Photo: Former Nairobi deputy governor Polycarp Igathe is on record for joing more than three high level jobs in less than a year.
By Collins Wanderi via FB
Looking for Job/Promotion: Who are your Referee(s)?
Last week I assisted a professional colleague to carry out a forensic audit of the recruitment; hiring, placement & promotion processes in an Inter-Governmental Organisation (IGO). The HR policy of the IGO requires that all candidates be subjected to thorough background checks before hiring or promotion to minimize personnel risk. I reviewed the level of compliance with this policy & advised on the criterion validity for placement & promotions in the Management Cadre between January 2017 & December 2019. 3 (very sad) cases involving Kenyans merit special mention.
In the first case, the best candidate in an interview was not hired because their professional & moral referees failed to respond to inquiries from the HR department even after 3 reminders via telephone & email. In the other 2 instances the responses were inconclusive. One referee responded that he “had no recollection of the candidate’s core competencies” even though the candidate had served under him for 4 years. Another moral referee (who is a HR Manager) responded that she did not know a candidate very well but she remembered that he kept long facial hair, never wore ties, argued with his superiors and smoked in the computer server room where he spent a lot of time. 3 young Kenyans lost an opportunity to work in the international body due to poor references.
Do you know the person(s) you indicate as your referee(s) well? Are you sure they have the time; kindness, information & resolve to support your career progression? If you’ve been applying for jobs, getting shortlisted & interviewed but not hired, it is time to critically asses the professional & moral value of your current referees
Who is your referee? – Part 1
Looking for or appointing a referee is serious business. Employers often ask for at least two referees; a character referee and a professional referee. A character referee should be somebody who knows you PERSONALLY outside work and can effortlessly write about your personality traits; morality; integrity and interpersonal skills. A professional referee is person who knows the quality of your work; technical capability and has worked with you for at least 1 year. If it is not your supervisor, then it must be somebody who interacts with you regularly & has an interest in your output at work, eg a client, service provider or head of another department. Whereas teachers & lecturers can be good character referees AVOID them completely. Teachers; Lecturers & College Principals are either too busy or have no resolve to see their former students progress (career wise) in life. Indeed our audit revealed over 95% of “no-response” to HR inquiries were for candidates who had listed their former teachers, lecturers and college principals as referees. Now you know!
Who is your Referee – Part 2
A referee can make or break your career. Avoid indicating random people; your age mates or contemporaries as referees. And NEVER list people who are competing with you for the same opportunities as referees. Approach people who are successful in your profession, trade or craft and request them to your mentors and referees. Random people & potential competitors will hardly spend time to support your career progression. Relatives MUST NEVER be listed as referees at any cost. Forensic Auditors (FA) use advanced tools to cross match public available information (PAI) to detect such malfeasance. It is so easy that you would be tempted to think FAs are magicians. In last week’s exercise an employee who had listed a fictitious/non-existent person as a referee, and then given a mobile number of a relative and an email address controlled by a friend was caught. Their employment ended even before it had begun. They were still under probation and a dismissal letter was signed even before our final report.
Who is your referee? Part 3
Before you appoint anybody as your referee, ensure the person (or Organisation) is NOTABLE & CREDIBLE. Every profession; trade, craft or sector has distinguished entities; men and women who can pass judgement on your qualifications; expertise, quality of work or service. Be bold to approach or write to such entities or individuals requesting them to be your mentors or referees, explaining what you know about them and why you wish to appoint them as your mentor or referee. DO NOT ever ever list anybody who has not agreed to be your mentor/referee as one. It is suicidal. Once a person/entity agrees to be your referee, YOU MUST draft a note indicating what you would want them to tell potential employers or clients about you. If they approve the note, then request them to reduce it to a general commendation letter which you can attach to your job or client reference applications. You do the draft commendation letter because you’re the one looking for a job or new clients, not your referee. The referee cannot denounce the good things they have written & attested about you! If a person declines to sign a general commendation letter for you, DELETE them from your list of referees immediately. My last post on this will have a sample general commendation letter.
NB: Professionals such a Lawyers, Engineers, Architects & Quantity Surveyors, Accountants, Auditors, Real Estate/Property Managers & GeneralContractors such as Builders, Civil, Electrical & Mechanical technicians/fabricators; Sanitary Service Providers, Transporters, Couriers, Caregivers, Landscapers, Painters, Decorators & Interior Designers, Publishers & Editors et al do also require referees to thrive in private practice & business. Lack of references & too much JUA KALI MENTALITY is the reason a lot of StartUps & SMEs in Kenya die within the first 2 years of starting business.