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The references dilemma

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by STLIrish, Aug 2, 2006.

  1. STLIrish

    STLIrish Active Member

    It's quite likely this has been discussed at length in the past. If so, feel free to chide me and direct me to the appropriate thread, but I have a question: How do you handle a request for "three professional references" when applying for a job?

    Specifically, I've been at my current job a few years, and I've done my best work here. I'm starting to look around, and some papers ask for references up front, along with the standard clips and a resume. Now, I'm pretty sure my current boss would give me a good reference, and, if I was the hiring editor at the next gig, I'd be more interested in what my current boss thought of me than the thoughts of someone I worked for five years ago. But I don't want to tip off my current employer that I'm looking, especially not this early in the game (after all, I'm just sending in an application). So I'm disinclined to put them on the list.

    What do you do when asked for references this early? I know some people list sources, but I'm not quite comfortable with that. Perhaps a trusted fellow-reporter? Or do I just go with the old references, who'd probably say nice things but don't really know what I've been up to lately. Any advice?
  2. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    Give them Seinfeld's phone number and tell him to say you're his top latex salesman.

    Seriously ... it's a tough call since you don't want your current boss to know. Someone else here might have a better answer.
  3. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    Well, on the resume you do, "references upon request."

    Then, assuming you're dealing with reasonable human beings -- because it's a place you want to work -- you give them other references and then say, "You're probably going to want to talk to my current boss, but I would appreciate it if you wouldn't take that step until you're pretty certain your interested and pretty far along in the process" or something like that.
  4. HoopsMcCann

    HoopsMcCann Active Member

    hope to god that one of your references isn't up for the same job, right sf?
  5. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    Well, yeah, that can get sticky, can't it? :)
  6. Mira

    Mira Member

    I was in the same situation before I landed my current gig. After years of old references, I decided to use some fellow reporters who I worked with for a spell and knew my work and work habits.

    Or if you've worked on a collegiate beat, how about an SID from a university?

    I just don't think working over a current boss is in your best interests, unless you're itching to get out that bad and he/she knows it and likes you.
  7. Claws for Concern

    Claws for Concern Active Member

    If you attended college and worked on the newspaper, how about the newspaper adviser or editor in chief?

    Perhaps someone who can speak about you as a person (character, etc.) who is outside the biz. Never hurts.
  8. deskslave

    deskslave Active Member

    I'm always disinclined to do this when they specifically ask for references. To me, it's deliberately ignoring a request in the job ad, along the lines of calling when the ad says no calls.

    There are other professionals in your newsroom besides your boss, though. Perhaps an assistant editor, or a coworker on a more high-profile beat. I think most people understand that you don't put down your current boss.

    That's just another reason why it's a bit harder to get those first couple of jobs. Think creatively, though, and you'll figure it out.
  9. tyler durden 71351

    tyler durden 71351 Active Member

    You think it's a good idea to use an SID or a PR guy you deal with as a reference? I don't know, I've always thought that kind of odd.
    Former co-workers, indirect supervisors and direct bosses from a couple of years ago are always the best way to go. And don't use drinking buddies/ex-girlfriends/ex-boyfriends from the office...pick people who you would hire to work for you and who can make a good impression.
  10. ServeItUp

    ServeItUp Active Member

    And for the love of whoever or whatever you worship, make sure they're people you keep in touch with on a regular basis; meaning, let them know you're on the hunt and that they can expect a call sometime soon.
  11. Pringle

    Pringle Active Member

    Please don't use an SID as a reference. First of all, if you've done your job, most of them are probably MFing you behind closed doors at least a couple times a year. My SID has practically tried to get me fired from my current job, let alone beating the drum for me to move up.

    It just looks like you kiss up to your sources if you put that kind of reference down. Plus, if you don't get the job or don't end up taking it, do you really want to feel indebted to the SID for putting in good words for you?

    Stick with people in the business.
  12. loveyabye

    loveyabye Guest

    I disagree with this tactic, because I feel like putting that on your resume is making the employer do extra work they might not feel like doing.
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