IV. On Whose Authority?
Author Fyodor Doestoevsky once wrote that if God is dead then everything is permitted, a claim that may hold water in philosophy lectures and celebrity book clubs, but that has no bearing on the world of business as we find it today. A more useful phrase, for our purposes, might be: “God is on a paid leave, but we’re thrilled to welcome his interim replacement, someone whose work we’ve admired for a long time and think is going to really knock it out of the park in this position: your new employer!”
Your New Employer, like the God absconded, has a carefully regulated moral ontology and is not able to abide certain characters and behaviours. The particulars of the employer's rubric are protean, ever-shifting like mercury, but one constant is that they remain fair and correct. However, no employer could reasonably be expected to exact the endless measuring and calculation necessitated by these systems of whim and desire. This is why employers needs a consortium of agents and voices of tested virtue to act as their eyes and ears when taking on a new charge. This is the purpose of references on a resume, to allow voices that will vouch for your moral character and work ethic a chance to give their reports. Let’s talk about what makes a good reference.
The Great Chain
There is an indisputable hierarchy of references, a divine ladder reaching down from the highest to the lowest. It is essential to make sure that your references rank as highly on the ladder as possible, this being the only guarantee an employer has that their words are true and the love they claim genuine. Here is a useful diagram to consider when choosing your referees, and don't worry, it can be a lot to take in but I'll be walking you through it stratum by stratum:
The source from which being employed flows, the many headed hydra of international corporate capital. Its charity is boundless, its grace is boundless, its hunger is boundless. All that is done and all that will be done has been underwritten by its terrible will. The Fountainhead would be the ideal reference, but we, fallen as we are, will never be able to limn the shadowless grammar of its tongue. We must instead try to draw near as we can to those happy few who’ve glanced at its impossible largesse and (through its mercy) not been struck blind.
This is the highest attainable level of reference. This is the sphere of employers, past and future, whose shepherding has brought you to where you are and whose crooks await you at the next gate. Theirs are the hands that guide the great wheels. Theirs are the lips who’ve tasted the blistering waters of business nearest their source. To have the direct words of an employer saying you’re fit for employ is a high honor, but is (again) unlikely, as any worthy employer will have exercised their great powers of delegation to ensure they are not distracted with the concerns of the lower spheres.
This is the sphere of the employer’s trusted deacons, human resource managers and departmental directors. These are the keepers of the annals of productivity, temperament and timeliness. Though they lack the ostentation of the higher orders, the fact of their ordination speaks to the verity of their assessment. If the employer has put their trust in these people so too should we.
Colleagues and Confidantes
Though not ideal, a former colleague or associate who is still someone’s employee can be asked to provide a reference if they have a commanding, authoritative voice or are a proven landowner. The primary appeal of a co-worker is that they are someone who had comparable duties and responsibilities to you, but as they likely bear no strong feelings towards you, they have little reason to lie. Conversely, if you were to list yourself as a reference an employer would not be able to trust you to see beyond your petty pride and ego. We are our true selves through the eyes of others.
This is the beginning of the undesirable spheres, these are referees who could in fact hurt your chances of impressing an employer. Publically funded educators, petty clerks, clergy of any religious order, sobriety sponsors, parole officers, knights-errant, women with kindness in their eyes only to mask wickedness, men whose manner bears the unpredictable violence of a drunkard, keepers of pets and tenders of beasts; these are all types to be shunned and avoided.
You cannot call upon that which has already gone, it would be folly and distemper to try. Even an employer attempting to reach them will do nothing. Gabriel is gone and his ashes scattered. Mere matter, mere matter. Wed now to the soil, for now and forever.
Under no circumstances should you include a reference from any member of your family, spectral boarders in your home or their domesticated beasts (corporeal or otherwise). Claiming faith in these transient sanguinary bonds would not only be a disservice to your employer, but also to yourself. This is the sphere of betrayers and usurpers, of those who would see you driven on the rocks. When at last we come to our reckoning, they will be first against the wall. Take comfort in knowing that their hell is hot.
Don't Let Them Hide Your Light Under A Bushel
Presumably, with the aid of this diagram you’ve been able to determine whom amongst your circles of influence are best suited to provide a reference. However, more than just getting an authoritative reference, it’s paramount to make sure that you secure a sufficiently glowing reference. Here are some tips:
- Ask very nicely, and always deliver a basket of baked gratitudes upon completion of the transaction.
Peruse the ledger you keep of others’ secrets and shames. Ask your referee if they’re still having trouble with the same deviant behaviours they’ve previously confessed or if their desires, like mushrooms or many-eyed potatoes, have flourished in the dark. Business is all about reciprocity, and showing a referee that you care about them will ensure that they show they care about you.
Trying to court a referee who’s playing hard to get? Remind them of their innate goodness by picking up a photo of their children (most good referees have children), naming each of them, where they attend school and the route they take home. Reflecting on the carefree lives of their cherished heirs will surely turn them to a more obliging mood.
Necessity is the mother of invention and the father of illusion. If you’re really painted into a corner, invent a referee yourself. Make sure that you have a thoroughly fleshed out characterization. Employers are wise and they’ll sniff out a poorly planned mirage before you’ve even had time to describe their labyrinthine golden ringlets. Imagine someone whose bearing speaks to financial security and authority. Imagine their childhood, somewhere on an idyllic farm. Imagine their dairy cows lowing through the morning, the horses cantering through a rolling field. Imagine the days they spent in the sun, drunk on the sweet country air and without a single cloud in the sky. Imagine their beautiful life with no Mother or Father. Imagine their beautiful life with no boarders to capture their heart, and where no one dies screaming in the hollow gut of the mountain. No chocolate cake in the dogs dish. No horrible gasping as the beast crawls out and out and out of its life, coughing and hacking but incapable of relief. Imagine the strong, quiet life of relief with no tears. No tears, no tears...