Bob Goldman

It's 9 a.m. Do you know where your references are?

It's not a trick question. In today's turbulent job market, you may need to marshal your references at the drop of a hat or the drop of a pink slip or the drop of a pink hat. I don't want to be depressing, but let's be realistic here -- before you reach the end of this paragraph, you could be looking for a new job.

Still here? Well, let's call this a wake-up call. The plain fact is that everyone with or without a job needs to be ready with their resume and their references. It's like in the good old days when we stocked our fall-out shelters with jerky and Jell-O. All it takes is a sudden attack of unemployment, and your paranoid preparations will pay off, big time.

Or so I was reminded when I received an email from Allison & Taylor. I guess both Allison and Taylor were busy, because my email came from someone named Jeff Shane, but the message still resonated.

"5 Tips to Creating a World-Class Employment Reference List" is the lagniappe offered by the firm, which has "been in the business of checking references for corporations and individuals since 1984." (If you think reference-checking is a strange business to be in, consider that Allison & Taylor is headquartered in Rochester, Mich. What else are you going to do in Rochester, Mich.?)

If the idea of possessing a "world-class employment reference list" did not set my heart a flutter, which it definitely did, I was immediately hooked by a question in paragraph three -- "Will the list of job references I have created ensure that stellar new job offer?"

It's a question that should capture your attention, too, since your reference list includes your mailman, the checker in the 15-items or less aisle at the Piggy Wiggly, and Brutus, your pet schnauzer. And to be honest -- your schnauzer really isn't all that thrilled with your ability to reach monthly goals or effectively manage executive expectations.

Which brings us to tip No. 1, "First, think about your list content." The resume wranglers at Allison & Taylor suggest that you have multiple lists of multiple references, "each tailored to your special expertise." Makes sense. One group of references could attest to your ability to sleep through meetings without being noticed, while an entirely different collection of losers could testify to your ability to slip out of the office within minutes of returning from lunch, without management ever noticing you are AWOL.

Bob Goldman

Bob Goldman is a business humor writer.

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