listing yourself as a job reference

I need to call your immediate attention to this comment from M. left on a recent post:

In the last year, many (candidates) have been listing their mothers as references, and I even had one student last week list HERSELF as a reference. Has anyone else ever seen this?

Listing yourself as a reference is the funniest thing I’ve heard all week. I could not love this more. (Not in a you-should-do-it way.) I would love to get a reference call for myself! Who better to speak glowingly of me?

And while we’re on the subject of things you should not be doing that I’ve seen done this week, you also should not write in your cover letter that your competence can be seen “in the twinkle in my eyes.” (Real quote seen yesterday.)

{ 17 comments… read them below }

  1. Evil HR Lady

    That is totally awesome. I'm going to list myself, my mother and my husband from now on.

    Although, my mother will probably say, "Well, she hasn't lived here for almost 20 years, but when she did she never cleaned her room."

    So, perhaps not the best reference.

  2. Kelly O

    Totally agree with EHRL, this is just awesome.

    I think I should start listing my husband (you know, since I do all the household management and administration tasks) my mom (could we consider her a past instructor?) and maybe my best friend (vouch for my mad cooking and crafting skills.)

  3. Kerry

    How about the wife who calls to arrange a job interview for her 35 year old husband? Yep, totally happened. Or the parent who wanted to come in for the interview in place of her daughter who was sick?

  4. jaded hr rep

    Maybe you can say "I tried contacting this reference but she never responded. Do you have another?"

  5. Anonymous

    I use my mother as a reference, but I am a recent grad and my mother has been my on and off employer for 7 years. I'm sure that people don't take that reference as seriously, but it is by far my most important.

  6. Anonymous

    Kerry, talk about helicopter parenting! (And helicopter spousing, apparently?) I'm not an HR person, but I have looked through resumes for my company and I was pretty much appalled at some people's resumes. Do people seriously expect to get a job that way? I guess if they don't, they can always turn around and sue the college they went to. That seems to be happening a lot nowadays.

  7. Charles

    My apologies to the younger crowd for this comment:

    But I can totally see this as a skit on the Carol Burnett Show with Tim Conway "switching hats" when Carol or one of the other cast members calls him on the phone.

    Way too funny!

  8. theolderepublicke

    This is probably one of those never-will-happen scenarios, but what if the name of your reference shares the same name as you, or at least the same last name as you?

    I assume the applicant should write "no relation" next to the name. But I wonder if this might have been the actual situation in which the commenter thought the applicant was listing herself. (I didn't read the comment in question. I am only speculating.)

  9. Anonymous

    If the reference is in fact another unrelated person who shares her name, then it's a pretty significant oversight on her part not to see that it would cause confusion. The lack of a "(no relation)" would be a point against her in my book, because it shows a lack of awareness.

    Presumably, though, this was not the case, because in my experience, a list of references contains both phone numbers and an indication of the position that the reference held in relation to the applicant. And if the lady put down her information in a way that obscures in any way the fact that it is herself, by leaving something out or using a different phone number, that's pretty shady. It would be enough to make me not interview her, all else equal.

  10. M

    I am the original poster – in the student's (slight) defense, she was an incoming freshman to the university where I work and she had no job experience at all.

    And to answer theolderepublicke, I know she had definitely listed herself because the reference had the same cell phone number as the applicant's personal cell phone number (listed elsewhere in the application).

    The job in question is an entry-level student assistant job in an university library, so I often hire students with no job experience and no previous employers. Still, most are smart enough to list a volunteer supervisor or a teacher instead of themselves or their parents!

  11. MJB

    Well, I recently had a person pretend to be his old boss, and give me a reference on himself. I know this b/c I left a message for said reference, but when the person called me back, the candidate's name showed up on caller ID, and I verified online that the cell phone # belonged to the candidate. He tried to disguise his voice, but by the end of the conversation, he sounded just like himself. Very bizarre, and believe it or not, this was for an HR director role.

  12. Ask a Manager

    MJB: What?! Oh my god, this is even better. Did you say anything? I would have said, "My caller ID is showing that you're calling from the candidate's home number. Why is that?"

  13. MJB

    Ask a Mgr – YES! It was a cell phone, and I told him what had happened and he stuttered and said how weird it was and that it had never happened before. Tried to play it off as if it was an old company phone from the place he and his former supervisor used to work at together, and somehow that the phone must be linked to the wrong name. I continued with the reference check, and he was definitely sweating it, but he didn't confess. Obviously he did not get the job. It was all really strange – I debated about calling him out on it, but decided to take the high road.

  14. MJB

    I just about choked on my coffee with that one! The impersonation question would have been priceless. I'm calling you for advice next time I have a "person faking his own reference, but doing a cruddy job at it" experience.

  15. Anonymous

    This was the funniest thread I have ever read – loved the "did the candidate show a flair for impersonations" question!

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