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?