References available upon request. In a world where we are easily connected with multitudes of people and ex-coworkers, it is easy for a person to reach out to us when they need a reference and usually that is the only time you hear from them. It is always interesting to me how people would even consider having me as their reference and puts me in a weird situation of having to reject them. Now I don’t just reject them because I think they would be a bad choice or anything, it is just I would not be a reference or endorse anyone unless I have that first hand experience and confidence in that person’s professional ability. The people I usually reject to be a reference are those who I used to work with and met at either a social event or a team function and connected with them because I liked them as an individual and hope to get to know them better or stay connected to gain information from one another but being a reference or endorsing is a totally different thing.
For example, what would I say to the hiring sales manager that is looking to hire the person I met or worked with but know nothing of their work ethics, how they accomplish their work etc. I think there needs to be an understanding or standard etiquette of reference and job endorsement. I feel that it is fine to connect with folks on Linkedin, but that does not immediately mean each connection knows the other well enough to be a reference. That needs to be earned and demonstrated.
This is why it is important for any working professional to build their references well before they need it later when they are looking for a job. You will need to identify who believes and advocate for you and is an eye witness to your skills and what can offer to an organization. Most of the time, sales professionals have different sales managers throughout their careers, but unless you develop them as a future reference, you will be stuck calling on another sales manager in another geographic region that has no clue about you professionally, but you might have shared a nice meal and conversation. The latter was my situation and as a Regional Sales manager, I have previous sales reps that used to work for me that I would endorse and have quality stories and examples of what this person has accomplished in the past and how they did it. But more often then not, I get a frantic email or call of individuals usually not even with my knowing, dropped my name during their sales job interview and then afterwards asking if I wouldn’t mind if I was their reference. The answer would be a no.
Ask yourself this question right now. If you were looking for a sales job tomorrow, who would you mention as a reference or someone who would endorse you? Would this person be qualified and be willing to endorse you? If not, it is a good idea to start developing that relationship with your boss or manager. Don’t wait until you are desperate and having a person who will give you a weak endorsement or even worse a person who is not qualified to give you one, give you a bad one. This one oversight might be the thing that keeps you from landing a sales job or getting one.