I never give two references up front in an interview process. It seems to me that some people [recruiters, talent acquisition hunters and researchers] are just chancing their arm to get into my business social network or pump me for information. If you know Kevin Mitnick then you probably know about Social Engineering too. This is a relative new term for a uncool business practice that is over one hundred years plus years old (P. T. Barum).
It is you are part of the elite (like I am a Java Champion, one of 125 worldwide on this planet Earth) then you really should not be relying on referees at the first stage of potential contract interview process! (Err that is really just dumb.) Even if you aren’t part of this elite group, such requests is just plain wrong. This is where I feel that designers [the web, physical architects, creatives, artists, musicians, singers, sculptors and painters] are luckier than software developers, because there is a tangible product at the end of their work. These artistic workers have portfolios, and well stocked and recent portfolios tend to drive their freelance business model. In the software industry, much of what we as engineers do for business, lurks behind the close doors of the web front-end or some suped-up rich client. Our back-end development work is just plainly not immediately noticeable, but it is there nonetheless. We, therefore, should not devalue ourselves as digital engineers that work behind the scenes. Have you taken notice of thousand line name credits at the end of the latest Hollywood CGI movie? Movie work is paid for professional work, not free.
So let me repeat again, I do not provide up front references or referees of any sort, because I find it patronising. Don’t scandalise mine. If I and the potential client, during negotiations, both get to the contract job offer stage then I am more than happy to provide them directly to him or her. Then again the types of clients that I tend to work for, already have researched my skills online and/or, at least, spoken to other people about what I can do for them. All that said, I am always happy to provide testimonials.
– update – 2015/06/15 6:48pm
Clarification of the people statement at the beginning; revised generalisation as there as some great talent resource folk that help contractors and obviously client.