When you leave a company in Germany the company is required by law to hand out a letter in which the employment, the duration, and your role are described. The employee can request an extended version (most do as I am aware) and many companies will send the extended version right as a default. The detailed reference will elaborate on the employee's responsibilities and behavior. The law states that these reference letters have to be correct and truthful. Therefore future employers trust these letters and usually do not ask for further references.
I know this is quite different in other countries. And that in the US, in Canada, or Australia it is the norm that the applicant gives a list of people and their contact information who will give a reference. And the hiring manager will call these people and ask them questions about the application.
As someone not familiar with this concept, I wonder how to pick these people? On the one hand, it is obvious that you should only list people you trust to give a good reference. But on the other hand, what are hiring managers interested in, what kind of people should be on the list?
- Should you focus on your managers? Or peers you work closely together with? What about direct reports which you mentored and coached?
- Are titles important? Better only pick people with high positions? Or at well-known companies?
- Should you only pick people you worked together with very recently? Or is it okay to name someone who was a manager or co-worker many years ago?
- I even read that sometimes you ask people you never worked together within a professional context, but they know you well – like teachers, trainers.
- Or should you try to collect a list of people that basically covers everything: A long time range and a mix of co-workers, reports, and managers? And then let the hiring manager decide who to call?