A reader sent us this article about spamming company references.
Spamming Company References
About 20 years ago, I walked into a local branch of an Accountancy agency, who also do IT, looking for freelance work.
I was still in a job, but wanted something new.
They did their ‘sham’ interview – you know the one, where they have no idea, or interest in what you were doing in your job, but seem to just be asking for contacts.
Agencies Asking for References
Even though it was the first time that I was in the situation, I felt uncomfortable and did not give them contact information.
They finished of with, please provide us with references, to which I replied, ‘I’m not comfortable with the agency contacting my current employers as I’m sure that, if they knew I was thinking of leaving, it would be quite embarrassing.
‘I’ll do that when I am offered an interview’ I said, but they kept pressing, so I said that I’d give them the names of a couple of professional family friends (Which were the same people who my then current employers had asked, and accepted, for references.)
Left the Interview
No, they told me. I must provide my current Branch Manager’s full name and contact details and at least one other senior person from where I am working. Of course they, won’t contact them until a client company offers me a job, they told me. So I replied, well then you can have the details when you need them (i.e. when they offer me a job).
‘Oh, no’, they said, ALL the people they would contact on my behalf would need to see references first.
So I said, how does this work, if you are not going to contact my referees before they offer me a position?
Anyway, I left the interview, feeling that they were not really up front with me.
I’d actually taken a day off work to visit a few agencies and, Although I did get a new job, it was through another agency.
Previous Recruitment Consultant
A couple of years later I visited the agency again, as I was again thinking of changing jobs.
I walked into the same branch as before. I’d sort of forgotten that I’d been in to it before.
When I gave my name they actually found the record card and I could clearly read what was written – ‘seems a little dodgy’.
I said to the ‘consultant’ that I object to that. I was told that the previous consultant was extremely professional and their opinion was highly valued.
So, I said that I’d like to speak to that consultant. To which the reply was, “They no longer work here”.
‘So’, I said, bearing in mind I’d worked for five years in one job since leaving school, ‘how could I be considered dodgy’?
Refusing References is Dodgy
His answer was ‘did you refuse to give us references? That’s really dodgy – we always phone up all your references because as far as we are concerned all CV’s are lies!’
I said, ‘do you ever get new sales contacts from the references?’
‘Oh, you can’t help that, It goes with the territory’ was the reply.
Dodgy Agency Spamming Company References
Anyway, I’m delighted that I did not give any references. The place where I worked (a bank) would have taken offence at a reference contact if I was not actually leaving.
They did to other colleagues.
I made a point not to deal with that agency again.
Rather than them not putting me forward, I don’t want to deal with them.
I’d like to point out that in all the time I’ve been in IT, not one Interview has ever been generated by a consultant that asked for a reference.
Recently Applied for an IT Contract
Recently, I applied, through a job board, for a contract, which happened to be through the IT branch of the same agency.
Actually, I didn’t notice it was them at the time, you know what it’s like.
Most of the adverts on the job board are so similar, that I made a mistake and pressed send.
Guess what, I got a call from them, telling me about the job.
Actually, it seemed that they were reading my skill set from my CV.
What a perfect match!!
Need to Take References
Of course it didn’t take long till they said ‘we need to take contract references‘
‘Really’, I said sarcastically, ‘no agency ever asks me for references’ I continued, ‘I’ll take them with me to the interview. What’s the clients company do?’.
‘Oh’, said the Consultant, ‘We can’t put you forward to a role, without speaking to your references first. ‘We must have your current managers name and your previous one – No H.R. Departments’.
‘But I’ve got written references, I’ll take them with me to the interview’.
Don’t Trust Written References
‘Just send them through to me,’ said the consultant. ‘It will make it easier for me to speak to your managers direct – we, erm, our clients never trust written references, most are lies!’.
‘Really!’ I said. ‘You read out my CV as a job spec, You don’t trust written references, and you won’t tell me about the company. I don’t think the job exists! You sound like a really dodgy agency to me!’.
20 years and nothing changes on this agency spamming company references!
They are still spamming company references from contractors to get leads after all this time
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