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Non-responsive referees

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by drench, Dec 6, 2011.

  1. drench

    drench New commenter

    I've been abroad for a while and am applying for admin jobs, but all of my previous school heads and line managers have moved (I really do mean all), and after tracking down some new addresses I can only get one person from my last two schools to respond to a request for a reference, or to be placed on my list of referees. I have open references from some, and some previously completed the Search recommendation forms which remain in the database for Search, but I need to include with applications a list of people whom prospective employers might actually want to contact for something more. Does anyone else have this problem with previous referees? What's the best thing to do about it?
     
  2. drench

    drench New commenter

    I've been abroad for a while and am applying for admin jobs, but all of my previous school heads and line managers have moved (I really do mean all), and after tracking down some new addresses I can only get one person from my last two schools to respond to a request for a reference, or to be placed on my list of referees. I have open references from some, and some previously completed the Search recommendation forms which remain in the database for Search, but I need to include with applications a list of people whom prospective employers might actually want to contact for something more. Does anyone else have this problem with previous referees? What's the best thing to do about it?
     
  3. Syria1

    Syria1 New commenter

    Always use your current Head as the main reference - even if you have only been there a short while. You could try linked-in or something similar as well. We always ask for a reference from the current school - normally the Head or the Deputy. Open references are not worth the paper they are printed on - in particular if they are more than 3/4 years old and quite possibly written by a mate.
     
  4. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    It is almost six years since I swopped managing schools for more congenial pursuits such as writing books and growing olives but I am still contacted from time to time to supply confidential references for former colleagues. If I have not been in contact with the applicant since working with them, my reference is obviously of limited value. However there are a few folk who have kept in closer touch. I know about their subsequent careers in some detail, in one case because we continue to co-operate on a couple of projects. There's a moral here: Keep your referees, like your friendships, in good repair. If you only pop back into their lives when you want something, they may not bother.
    While they are certainly not as important as supportive confidentials they are worth including because they may just persuade the recruiter to include a candidate in the long or short list.

     
  5. drench

    drench New commenter

    Thanks for both replies. I am using my current school, Syria1, along with someone from my previous school, but some posts ask for several referees, and one school wanted to go back to the school before last. I've also been in positions both currently and in my last school with just one person above me, and with two in the school before that - which I left almost 8 years ago - so don't have a great array of line managers to ask. All have written references previously, and there have never been any problems. I agree references from 8 years ago really can only be of limited value, Mainwaring, but if a school asks... Ironically, I am still in touch with line managers before that, but they're friends also, and are going back 10+ years - so even more limited value, I guess.
    I'm not sure what you mean by 'keeping referees in good repair' - I write plenty of references myself, and feel it's part of the territory of leadership roles. If a previous teacher 'pops' back into my life to ask, when they happen to be looking to move on, I don't see a problem with that, nor with them updating me when they do that. I don't and wouldn't myself refuse (or 'not bother') to write a reference for any former colleague, just because they hadn't been keeping in touch in the interim - I don't really expect that apart from those who are friends.
    Syria1 some schools actually ask for open references to be included in the application materials sent, so I've always obtained one. Other schools I'm sure don't consider them of any value. It seems to vary a lot. I gather open references are outlawed in the UK these days.
     
  6. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    As a recruiter I sometimes found that the candidate had supplied me with out-of-date or inaccurate contact information for their referees. This is a good example of NOT
    Neither do or would I, even when the candidate doesn't bother update me (a copy of the latest CV is a good prop). But not all former line managers are such paragons of professional virtue as you and I, which may be why you started this thread in the first place.
    The ISR thread has reminded me of a related issue. As with college recommendations, I try, usually without difficulty, to accentuate the positive when writing a teacher reference but on a couple of occasions I've been asked out of the blue (i.e. with no previous contact from the candidates) for refs for really horrific blasts from the past.
     
  7. Syria1

    Syria1 New commenter

    I don't mind at all providing references for past staff - the odd one excepted. It is always good manners to ask beforehand if possible. It may be a personal thing, but I just don't like open references.
    I once had an applicant who had 7 different open references (all of some vintage and all glowing and all apparently from past fellow staff members) attached to a lacklustre CV with no referees 'available at this time'. Upon my inquiry whether his current employer would want to provide a reference the answer from the applicant was that they were far too busy to do so.
    Needless to say he was not shortlisted. [​IMG]
     
  8. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    I've written supportive references for several excellent Indian former colleagues who were as straight as the proverbial dice but it has to be recorded that the resident tell-tale or 'owners' nark' is also a feature of many schools in the Sub-Continent. Consequently when Sunil sent me an affectionate email asking me to write him a reference I sent him this draft for his ‘perusal':
    It gives me great pleasure to write in support of Mr Sunil Patel who has for the past four years played a key role in the development of Erkon World School of which I was founding Director. (This comment is intended to be taken literally, as there is nobody in India who knows more about keyholes than does Sunil).

    Sunil initially joined Erkon under the mistaken impression that IB meant ‘Intelligence Bureau'. As Head of Information Technology he played an invaluable role in supplying the owners of the school with information of all kinds both on and off campus, a task he fulfilled with admirable dedication. A talented electronics designer, he was the sole inventor of Patel's Patent Pickle Pot, a device which could pick up subversive comments at five yards and relay them direct to the Chairman's office, together with detailed information about which teacher had had a second cup of tea or which guidance counsellor had scorned the Management's generosity by refusing to eat her broccoli. In addition to his electronic duties, Sunil was deeply involved in the co-curricular life of Erkon and was directly responsible for the adoption of the school song ‘You'll Never Walk Alone'.

    Sunil always showed great loyalty and dedication to me personally, assiduously polishing both my shoes and my posterior, services which I understand he has continued to give unstintingly to my successor. As Director it was always a great comfort to know that in the evenings as I watched my TV, it was also watching me. However Sunil was an unobtrusive and tactful colleague and even when he was lying under my desk with a hand-held recorder I seldom trod on him. Although Sunil did not keep in direct touch with me after I left Erkon, he has continued to demonstrate a touching interest in my movements and those of my friends, faithfully reporting these to his superiors.

    For all the above reasons I can recommend Sunil Patel without reservation to any organisation desirous of recruiting a skilled and experienced double intelligence agent. He is an extremely talented young man and I am very sorry that the scaling down of KGB operations has reduced the scope for the future development of his career. Nevertheless he should go far. As far as possible from me, that is.


     
  9. How happy was he with it? Was there the possibility that he mistook it as a good reference?

     
  10. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    Well, he thanked me for it.
     

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