In a past life, I was the colleague and then technical supervisor of a ton of people who supported Visual Basic for Microsoft.
Especially given my central role in keeping many of those people in touch with each other, this means I am still being used as a reference more than five years later. I wonder how long this goes on… Not that I mind! If they ask detailed questions, I may have trouble remembering exact answers, but I certainly know who from that group I would hire. Most of them, in fact, but some more than others.
Today one of the ones I see with regularity contacted me needing references. He’d never needed any until now, and lost track of most of the people who would be appropriate. I’d hire him without hesitation. The last work he had started out as a three week contract to do some database conversion, and ended up being more than a year of porting code to VB.NET, and fixing what had previously been ported unsuccessfully. After that, he’d been looking for a few months.
His observation is that things are getting better; tech work is more available and employers are showing real interest in hiring.
Then he went astray, remarking it should get even better once Bush is gone! Hellloooo… the collapse of tech work, and to some degree the wider economy, came from where? The economy is now improving why? To the degree an administration’s policies have anything to do with it, the answers would be, respectively, Clinton and Bush.
It was just an idle remark. I chuckled good-naturedly at the joke and said nothing. We have never discussed politics, and I couldn’t have told you where he stood until today. Perhaps a guess, based on what “lifestyle issues” might be a factor, but never anything so clear.
Since he wasn’t vociferous, it doesn’t bother me that he made such a comment. I have friends whom I relate to on matters not political, and it all works out fine. I get terribly uncomfortable if they not only bring up the political, but harp on it.
But I digress. Back to the topic of references, it would be interesting for me if I ever went back on the job market. References would have to be people who were clients, people who reported to me, or possibly a person or two I interacted with at Microsoft in Washington. I have no idea how to reach anyone I ever had as a supervisor or manager.