"Professional references - Please do not list employers" - WTF?

Disclaimer: I’m not sure if there’s a “standard” definition of a professional reference. I’m assuming that there is, thus the posting in GQ instead of IMHO. My apologies if I’m wrong.

So I’m applying for a job at a university library. I think I’m qualfied for it, since I have about 5 years aggregate experience working in a library (I worked there at different times, at different positions), but under the “Professional References” section of the application, it says to not list employers.

WTF? Wouldn’t they want employers’ opinions? My take on it is that they may not want the opinions of present employers, though that doesn’t really make much sense to me either.

GQ part of the question: What, exactly, is considered a professional reference? And, similarly, what exactly is an employer? (Read: do you think I can list former co-workers that weren’t my direct supervisor?)

IMHO part of the question: If I can’t list former employers, who the heck should I list? It’s not as if I have a broad network of library professionals to call on if I can’t list the ones I’ve worked with…

And FTR, I emailed the HR department asking them the same questions, with no response. Nor do they seem terribly keen on returning phone calls (all they have is voice mail) either.

My WAG: many employers cannot or will not provide job references due to company policy. If you are hired, or NOT hired, because of an assertion made in the reference process, your past employer may be liable in a lawsuit.

So list peers (non-supervisory coworkers at your former employer should be acceptable) and/or professional associates who worked for other employers.

And make sure anyone whose name you use knows that you are using them as a reference.

I believe it’s a California state law that if anyone calls about a former employee, I can only verify that they were employed here for x number of months / years. Any personal info about what kind of a worker they were or even what they did specifically is forbidden.

I would speculate that they want you to list persons who are not your employers who can vouch for your professional competency in addition to those persons who have employed you who can vouch for your professional competency.
That way if you have 3 former employers who can vouch for your competency, and 3 former co-workers, colleagues or persons with whom you have otherwise demonstrated your competency to, they have a larger pool of persons (6) to query regarding your competency.

Any cite on this, Dooku? Because I don’t think it’s a state law. I think it’s individual company policy. But I’ve been wrong before! and before, and before, and before…

Some people use college professors or advisors, doctors, lawyers, ministers, older family friends who are in some type of professional occupation like business owner, etc. As stated above, ask permission from references to use their names. Good luck!

I too think that this may be company policy. My old company loved me and I think even the CEO would have gladly provided a reference if I asked (which I didn’t; CEOs scare me as a matter of principle).

As this foul-up is concerned, it turns out that some genius screwed up, and that section was supposed to read personal references. :mad:

And this is for a job at a university for goodness sake!

Oh well, my app’s in, and we’ll see if they call. Thankfully, the fact that they’re bordering on incompentent will make the whole “well, I didn’t want to work there anyway” sour grapes thing work that much easier. :frowning:

I agree w/most of the above except using lawyers as references.

disclaimer - I personally did this myself back in the old days (it was my godfather :cue music: ).

When I was a position of reviewing resumes/cover letters/apps/ references checks etc., when I saw an attorney listed as a reference, it always gave me pause, ‘how close are these two? was this a professional or personal relationship? why did they need a lawyer and how come they’re so close the lawyer could give a reference?’.

anyhow, I’d go w/former profs (if they knew you/remembered you - I recall one letter of reference from a prof who said stuff like “although I don’t recall him personally, my records show he recieved a grade of 3.0, which indicates…”), other professionals who would know your work habits (for example - is there a department that contacts you frequently needing information or services?, a particular person?) etc.