Why we love recommendations

This first-time manager in IT hires a new member for his team, but the new guy doesn't work out well, reports a pilot fish who's also on the team.

"That was despite the fact that he had received glowing references from his peers and prior employers," fish says. "In one of our bull sessions, the manager complained about those inaccurate references."

Fish finally gets tired of hearing the naive complaints and decides to clue him in. "Look, only an idiot would give someone as a reference who would speak poorly of them," he points out. "Remember that!

"And for all you know, that 'professional reference' could be a good personal friend of the candidate who doesn't mind saying the candidate is a great worker when they're actually a complete slacker.

"A current or former employer is even less reliable, especially if they want to get rid of an employee, or get them off unemployment, which is assessed against employers, or have concerns about being sued by that employee.

"Giving an inflated reference to help get an employee a job somewhere else is cheaper than paying a severance package or dealing with a wrongful termination lawsuit. Why do you think they gave those great recommendations instead of the usual 'worked here from this date to that date'?

"It wasn't because they wanted to keep him..."

Sharky does want your true tale of IT life -- honest! Send it to me at sharky@computerworld.com. You can also comment on today's tale at Sharky's Google+ community, and read thousands of great old tales in the Sharkives.

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