How critical are references to the job search?


I have been pondering whether or not to leave my current job I have been at for six months in an office which has a really negative culture. (I know that kind of a description gets thrown around a lot, but I feel like I've seen and sometimes been the recipient of too many instances of gender-based discrimination which take place there, and I believe leaving would be better for my mental health.) 

One of the concerns holding me back is worrying about having to re-enlist too many of the people whom I either I used for references previously when applying for that job or whom I asked more generally for advice during my last job search; I don't want to burn them out if I ask for help from them again so soon after I was looking for a job before.

Several of my architecture jobs/internships in the more distant past didn't require references at all, so I wonder how realistic it would be for me to just focus on opportunities which don't need any. However, those previous job application experiences were for more entry-level and temporary roles at often less prestigious firms than the one I am now working at. I guess what I'm looking for is some outside perspective on how many firms do/don't use references as part of their hiring process, and if it would be reasonable for me to find a place which doesn't require them at the ~1-2 year experience level. Particularly if (while I'm not yet desperate about trying to find a new job) I'd also like to try and find another firm which pays at least some level of attention to design quality. Thanks in advance for any thoughts and insights.

Jan 22, 22 5:38 pm

You should be fine to switch jobs. Try to line up interviews and get referrals to open positions from people you've met in the industry in addition to online applications. Better to leave a firm that's not a good fit sooner than later. 

Jan 23, 22 9:21 am  · 
1  · 

I agree with 359 degrees comment above.  Our calls to references usually only take about 5-10 minutes.   It's really not going to be a big burden on the persons giving you a reference.

I would be concerned about the management quality of any firm that doesn't bother to ask for and check a candidate's references.

Jan 24, 22 3:03 pm  · 

Always check references, but it's mostly about building a network and I trust recommendations from friends before anyone else.. Also get work more through word of mouth than cold calls or RFPs.

Jan 24, 22 3:15 pm  · 

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