Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Personal Relation Refuses To Offer Professional Recommendation

Dear Tazi:

I am so angry I could spit! I have been out of work for two years now, and have had to take a lot of temporary positions and cleaning jobs to try and make ends meet. I am not a clerical worker, nor am I a cleaning lady, but sometimes you have to put your pride aside in order to make-do.

I have accepted a temporary clerical job covering a maternity leave for a woman in a large corporation. You can imagine my surprise when I discovered that an old friend from childhood works in the same office, and is a high-level manager. We had lunch together my first week on the job, and had a nice time catching up with each other, but when I asked her if she could recommend me for a full-time, permanent position with the company, she refused! She told me that she does not know my professional work well enough to vouch for it!

Tazi, I was so upset I walked right off of the job! This so-called "friend" was always the feminist type, so I thought for sure she would want to help another woman out and get me back on my career track! I told her this, and how I felt like I had been stabbed in the back, but she just retorted that my walking off the job was extremely unprofessional, and if it was any indication of the kind of worker I am she can see why I am still unemployed! She immediately apologized for her cruel remark, telling me it was said in anger and not in truth, but where I come from an apology requires a penance to back up the words. I told her so and that I would like her to recommend me for a job in the company, but again she refused!

Tazi, am I being out of line in my request? Might there be some truth to what my old friend has told me - that I am demanding too much from her? Could I be demanding too much from employers, too?


Dear Slighted:

A professional recommendation is different from a personal one. With a personal recommendation, the reference is vouching for your personal character; with a professional recommendation, the reference is vouching for your ability to do the job. A personal recommendation is backed-up by the quality of the reference's character; a professional recommendation is backed-up by the reference's credentials. When someone gives a recommendation for another - personal or professional - they are putting their own reputation on the line as collateral in the belief that the person they are recommending will succeed, thus shining a positive light on their own judgement.

And sometimes, you don't need others to vouch for you...

Just because your old friend is a feminist does not mean that she has to help you get a job in her company. Although a part of the feminist code is to assist other women in climbing their own personal ladders to success, it does not require a woman to do anything a man would not do - including put her professional reputation on the line for someone she does not know professionally. I find your demand for a self-serving "penance" odious!

I suggest that you apologize to your old friend for your extreme over-reaction to her refusal, and blame it on the stress of long-term unemployment. Then, see if she is willing to review your resume and your professional accomplishments to see where you might fit into the company for which she works. If she says that you would not fit, ask her why - and be prepared to hear the honest answer. Running out in the middle of a work-day because you are upset might be one reason you do not fit the corporate mold.

You do not say what your professional field is; just what it isn't. When looking for professional references, I suggest you look to former co-workers who know your work and keep the old friends as personal references only.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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