Monday, April 26, 2010

Resignations and References

I have lived the misfortune of talented individuals resigning their position at Strategic Communications Group (Strategic). It is unavoidable and happens to nearly every organization.

The cause for resignation has varied. Perhaps it’s a new opportunity that better aligns with an individual’s professional goals. Or maybe there is a desire to make a life adjustment. And, in some instances, it’s merely that the person (or organization) has grown stale and change benefits all parties.

Regardless of the reason, I came to understand early in my tenure as a founder and CEO that the decision to resign employment from Strategic Communications Group (Strategic) should not be viewed as a personal affront. Everyone moves forward and the nature of my relationship with the former employee typically enters a new phase.

For instance, one long-standing executive at Strategic further sharpened her operational skills at a Web development company, and now provides consulting support to our company.

Another PR leader who worked at our firm now runs her own consultancy after a successful stint handling media relations for George Washington University. And a third has gone on to a management position at one of the most respected marketing firms in the region.

In most instances, I gladly serve as a professional reference for former Strategic staffers. (Note the emphasis on the word “most.”)

That’s because late Friday I received an unexpected Email from a former employee who I had not spoken with in more than a year. This person is in the final throes of the interviewing process and communicated that someone will be calling me that afternoon or Monday morning for a reference.

There was no personal call to re-establish the connection and explain what should be shared with this prospective employer. There has been no interest or investment in maintaining a relationship. Rather, just an expectation that because we worked together I have some sort of obligation to serve as a reference.

I politely declined.

1 comment:

Robin Ferrier said...


Thanks for the great post. I actually had someone I used to work with email me asking me for a reference. The catch? During her last six months on the job she spent more time searching for a new job than working. And we all knew it since she was always on job search web sites when we walked past her desk. And she thinks I'm going to put my reputation on the line for her? Not likely! It's amazing how brazen people can be.