The reverse reference: Why hiring talent is a two-way street

This year I’ve noticed two big improvements in the way we hire people. 

The first is placing increased focus on conversations with references. The second comes from one of my many leadership blunders.

A few weeks ago I was interviewing a freelance strategist to work with us. This person was smart, seasoned, and seemed like they’d bring a lot to our team. Towards the end of our chat, I began to ask about references they could provide.

But then: a sudden impulse of imposter syndrome. I stopped the question midway and blurted out that instead of me asking them for references, the opposite should be happening.

I cringed as the words tumbled out. My trait for self-sabotage had struck once again. What a great way to undermine Wavetable and put off talented people from working with us. Ugh.

Then again, perhaps it wasn’t such a bad idea.

In a world where talent have a whole world of opportunities and now expect far more than just a paycheck, why don’t more employers and clients offer up references to the people they interview?

There are so many stories out there of reality not meeting expectations; of values and cultures being misaligned; of disengagement and dissatisfaction. No one wins.

Instead, why not offer up two or three people someone can call to find out what it’s *really* like to work with you? They could be clients, customers, suppliers, partners.

Sure, there's risk here. Going Inside Out brings vulnerability. But it's also a great test - and a powerful way to build clarity and trust. After all, as Jeff Bezos once said, 'your brand is what people say about you when you're not in the room'.

References matter. But today's world of work is a two-way street. 

Sharing more of what happens inside might just have a surprising impact on what happens outside...

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