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My university has a co-op program, where students have two quarters in class, and two quarters working full-time in their industry for the middle three years of their five-year programs. At my second co-op, the company's VP of Operations (in charge of the national HQ office I was working in) offered to act as a contact/reference for me (and my fellow co-ops at the company).

It has recently come to my attention that his position at the company was dissolved due to the president/CEO deciding it was no longer needed, and that his duties could be rolled into the other departments. Unfortunately, the only method of contact i had was through his company email/phone number.

Is it a good idea to try and track him down to keep the reference valid, or should I drop it and look for other reference sources? If I should look into finding a new contact method, should I touch base with the company's HR department, and if not ask them to give me his number/email, at least pass a message onto him with my email?

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    Try linked-in? . – enderland Jun 19 '13 at 14:01
  • @enderland i do not have an account, though it's something i intend to take care of after my current co-op is complete. – acolyte Jun 19 '13 at 18:31
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In my experience, there's certainly nothing wrong with using a reference who has moved on from the place where the two of you worked together. I've both used references after they left the employ of the place where we worked together, and also served as a reference for someone after I left the place where we were working together. No one has ever said this was a problem either way.

As for getting back in contact with this person: As a comment suggested, you can try LinkedIn or other social media. Another possibility would be to contact other former co-workers from that company, if you are still in touch with someone there. Your own suggestion of HR might be useful also. In either case, I advise giving them your contact information and asking that they pass it along to the person you want to contact. This is because people often don't want to give out contact information for someone without that person's permission; in fact, I'd expect HR to have a policy prohibiting such action. However, it's probably okay for them to pass your information to the other person, once you've given permission.

  • Yeah, i wasn't going to ask them to give me his personnel file or anything, just that they pass a message on. The only real issue is that i'm not sure how he might feel about getting a message like this from the company. – acolyte Jun 19 '13 at 18:30
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In general it is your responsibility to stay in touch with your references. LinkedIn makes this so much easier today. I would be very surprised if HR would send a message to a former employee for you. They have no vested interest in doing do. Join LinkedIN and search for the person.

You might also consider contacting anyone else that you worked with at that co-op to get a reference. Possibly some of them are still at the company.

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