Solely In Black and White: Resumeology 101: Class 4 References

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Resumeology 101: Class 4 References

Now for the fun stuff on the resume, the references. It would seem that people often make the amateurish mistake of thinking very little information can be gleaned from a list of handpicked references. Logic would dictate that when compiling said list, one would only choose the best and the brightest for the job… or maybe the people who have impeccable salesperson’s skills. Besides, who really knows nowadays; maybe you can acquire an expert “references” too, for the right price! ;-) (Glorified shalach manos maybe :-P )

While many people strongly endorse “off the books” (paper) research, I still believe it has some merit. Don’t get me wrong, if possible, I do believe one should use outside sources for investigative purposes and to corroborate the information that may have been found, but I think that it’s necessary and reasonable to start with the reference list. Before we get into the exact reason why, let us set a minimum amount that should be used.

For arguments sake, I believe a resume should have plenty of references on it, both for your family and for you personally. I don’t want to put a hard number on it, since that would imply a rule of sorts (we just love those rules… oh wait a second :-) ), but IMHO, one should list at least 3 for the family section and at least 4 or 5 for the friend section. While this may seem like overkill to some, do keep in mind that some of your references have lives other than your shidduchim and may not be able to (or care to) return all the calls they receive on your behalf. Also, you do have more than 2 friends who can vouch for you… right? :| This odd phenomenon, not being able to reach one’s references, is especially true in those situation where one’s references may be married and/or living in a different time zone! Oh, that reminds me; if you decide to use a reference that has a DSL line in Israel, please label it as such, so they don’t receive phone calls at some unearthly hour. Yes, I know; they really want you married and all, but they’re not about to lose that much sleep over it. :-P

Anyway, the purpose of calling a listed reference is as follows: It’s not necessarily the information they’ll tell you, since most references won’t tell you anything of substance, it’s about the info they won’t tell you. It’s the little “um” and “hmm” they awkwardly say or when they start “wiggling” about something or maybe it just their general “hemming and hawing.” Granted, some good references have the ability to describe a person exceedingly well, and it’s uncommon for one to say something utterly disparaging, but only the best of liars and actors can get away without a slipup.

The other aspect of checking out the references is something along the lines of: Oy l'rasha, v'Oy l'shchayno. Fact: People are influenced by their surroundings whether they like it or not. By extension, your references would technically be the people you and your family are close to and thus influenced by. Furthermore, one’s friends would also be considered part of who they are since they influenced the environment in which they grew up in. I believe the most important part of calling a person’s references is what their friends’ character traits say about the person in question. For example: If someone where to call all your closest friends and the most obvious common and discernable trait amongst the group was that they are either ditzy, snooty, mean, spoiled, obnoxious or some other negative character trait, most likely you are too! This may come off sounding a bit crazy and perhaps over-analytical, but for the most past its true; and after a while you start picking up on these little patterns. So in conclusion, word to the wise: choose your references very carefully and have an ample amount of references.

By the way, do I need to write a Part 5 on pictures?


  1. 7 references?!

    What about single vs. married friends as references?

  2. Yes, you were supposed to do that. I’m pretty sure I know your take on pix, but why not share? I'm having a huge issue with my references. I just had to change around my resume and it seems so stupid. My closest friend does not know how to give info about me. She's not a smooth talker. My other references are finding that they have to undo some major damage that this girl is doing. I feel like it has nothing to do with whether or not I'm very close to my reference. Rather it has to do with whether the person can give the information in an eloquent fashion.

  3. @tnspr569:
    It really shouldn’t be that hard to get 7 references. To quote above: “Also, you do have more than 2 friends who can vouch for you… right?

    I intentionally avoided that issue. For one, it’s hard to say which one is better. Two, the post was long enough as is. On the one hand single friends have more time while married friends might be more sympathetic, experienced, and most importantly, they aren’t competing against you. I don’t really know. What’s clear is that one needs to choose their references wisely regardless of whether they’re married or single. Personally, I would say use both if applicable and allow the other side to choose who they want to call, but that’s just my humble opinion.

    @(not) The Girl Next Door:
    Okay, I’ll hopefully write it up soon. Aha, now I am curious what you think I think about it. Can you email me your prediction?

    That sounds terrible! Absolutely! It’s all about ability and has very little to do with closeness. Then again, you may want to tell your references specifically what to say, you know, just in case, they have other ideas…

  4. I didn't say that I had a hard time finding references, only that I hadn't heard of offering so many. I've heard so many times that using single friends as references is frowned upon - it's almost like you're judged for doing so. When I was first asked for references, I didn't think about single over married, I just thought of close friends in general.

    The more involved I become with this scene, the more insane it seems. This is why I took some time off.

  5. Hey, the more the merrier. That’s why you should have both, so that people who care too much about silly things like that can be happy too. Whatever, people are entitled to their individual preferences to who they prefer to call.

    It's only as insane as you let it make you… hey, what’s your Jaded Quotient?

  6. I don't even register on the scale. Mine is practically nonexistent. You should know that, and why.

  7. That’s mathematically and practically impossible! Maybe you should read the post and comments again, just in case. ;-) Nope, don’t know that nor do I know the why. :-/

  8. Going off on a tangent, I think references are a bit reticent to being honest when giving over information. They usually say what you want to hear. Finding a mutual acquaintance is always better for getting the truth, however one caveat is that they'll sometimes give their (unsolicited) opinion as to whether it's a good match or not and there have been potential shidduchim that fell apart just because the mutual friend "couldn't see it."

    Also, I agree with ntgnx, my closest friend and reference gets shy when talking to people she doesn't know and though I know she is so sincere when giving over information, I'm sure she doesn't necessarily make the greatest impression. I still give her as a reference, because almost nobody knows me better than her and I trust her implicitly.

  9. Well then that just proves that I'm extraordinary! I couldn't relate to any of those questions/statements.

    You know my dating history, so you should know why this is the case.

  10. I'm with halfshared.
    I totally ignore the reference section and look for somebody that knows both parties.

  11. @halfshared:
    The solution to that problem, or so I have heard many times, is to ask the person for specific instances or examples where the person displayed whatever virtue the reference is telling you they posses. If they are just making stuff up to appease the caller they will get very stuck.

    I don’t think shyness is necessarily a problem, unless their shyness is so extreme that they can’t answer the questions and they mumble “um… I dunno” then it’s fine.

    Maybe, or it could just be you’re abnormal. More testing is necessarily to rule at any conclusions…. :-P Or it could just be my metrics are off… :-(

    No, not really, I barely know you!

    True, but there are two problem with going that route. 1. That limits the amount of people you can contact. 2. While those people might know the “dirt” they may not know all the details, such as the good intricacies, as well as say a close friend might. Why ignore them? Use them too. I think the more info the better.

  12. SiBW - no, the testing is flawed. Or it's just not geared towards certain populations, like your last points system.

    This doesn't require knowing me very well. Without a very extensive dating history, it's hard to be jaded.

  13. Regardless, you have to fall on the scale somewhere since it starts at 0, so unless you’re in the negatives (a mathematical impossibility), you fall somewhere on it. Okay, then accordingly (if you were a 0) you’d be completely not jaded. Hahah, so my model works!

  14. Umm, the whole time I meant 0. You made it seem as though you had to be jaded to some degree.

  15. Go back and read the post and my scale in the comments…


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