Monday, 21 September 2009
I've got myself a new job. From next week I'll be employed by an organisation involved in developing housing services for homeless people in North and West Yorkshire.
Or at least, I'm meant to be. The post is dependent upon references, and I can only start if they receive these references on time. So far, so reasonable, you might think.
Irritatingly, however, they haven't; they are still awaiting a response from the well-known supermarket chain I currently work for at weekends. Chasing this up - I, of course, had heard nothing - I discovered why: they were scared I might be leaving and were in effect ignoring it. Once I had reassured them that I planned to continue working for them for the foreseeable future they relented and agreed to prioritise the request as soon as possible. I'm not entirely convinced it will be.
Such an experience is incredibly frustrating, and I suspect I'm not alone, either; anecdotal evidence suggests that many other people have also had problems with obtaining references through no fault of their own. Sometimes the delay is understandable; the referee may be on holiday, or susceptible to numerous requests. But for others - myself included, it would seem - the cost of a reference is much more than simply posting a form and waiting patiently for a reply.
I've always thought the reference system a slightly peculiar and anachronistic one; that my chances for employment - or whatever it is I'm applying for - is reliant on the subjective and secret opinion of someone who may not have my best interests at heart. That they are withheld from candidates and rarely leave room for rebuttals lest they be inaccurate should at the very least result in a reevaluation of the importance currently placed on them in the workplace.