Author Topic: Work references and language barrier  (Read 1087 times)

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Cali.in.UK

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Work references and language barrier
« on: December 15, 2014, 07:28:05 PM »
B/G I worked in a non-English speaking country full-time for three years. Then I left to study for a year and a half and I'm now in the process of looking for a job (which is exciting and nerve wracking) and each application is very extensive and requires references and contact info from at least three people. When I was working abroad my first company had and has a very high turnover so there is no one still working there that I worked with (co-worker or supervisor) and the second job my previous supervisor and the owner of the school don't speak English well enough to write a LOR. I also heard that a former co-worker of mine asked the previous boss for a LOR and boss just ignored the message. Because of this I was planning on just listing my co-workers as references. Should I make a note about the language barrier as a reason for listing a co-worker instead of a supervisor or just wait for an HR person to ask me first?

figee

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Re: Work references and language barrier
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2014, 10:37:45 PM »
Can you get a written reference in Foreign Language then provide a certified translation in English for employers?

Another Sarah

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Re: Work references and language barrier
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2014, 09:56:34 AM »
References or letters of recommendation?
Because a letter of recommendation may not be possible, but I would have thought any company's HR department should be able to provide a confirmation that yes, Cali worked here and no, she wasn't fired for doing something bad. That's what employment records are for.

Lynn2000

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Re: Work references and language barrier
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2014, 12:08:26 PM »
If we're talking a letter of recommendation, I would do my utmost to have a translated copy available from the boss. I don't know how it is in other places, of course, but personally I'd find it a bit weird that this was allegedly the barrier--it would make me wonder if the applicant knew that boss wouldn't give them a good rec, so they were giving me an excuse why I shouldn't call them. So I would provide a translated copy of the LOR (along with the original) and also note on my reference list that Dr. Nakamura speaks Japanese, but no English--in case someone calls her personally. I think this would be very impressive--not only would the applicant strike me as thorough, I would see that they fluently spoke at least one other language and had successfully worked internationally/in a different culture from their own.

On the separate topic of co-workers writing LOR--my boss insists that she's in charge and there's no other hierarchy, so technically I've written LOR for co-workers (vs. lower reports) before. However I've always been able to say that I "helped supervise" the person. I've never written a LOR for someone where I would have to say "I worked alongside" them. Maybe this is a perfectly normal thing in some places/industries, but IME it would be weird. I would be thinking, "This could just be their work buddy who had little professional interaction with them. I want to hear from someone who was in a position to assess their strengths and weaknesses relative to the overall group."

Regarding the first company with high turnover, I think you could put the HR department in your reference list, and perhaps note that none of your previous supervisors are still with the company. Is it possible to find out where at least one of those supervisors is now, and ascertain that they would be a reference for you? If so you could then put them down, even if you had to note that they're now at company X, but supervised you at company Y.
~Lynn2000

Cali.in.UK

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Re: Work references and language barrier
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2014, 03:21:21 PM »
 I said both LOR and reference because I'm still at the early stages of my job search so both might be required at some point. So for both positions there was a head teacher (who are English speakers) and both of the head teachers have said that they will be a reference for me. Both of them no longer work for the previous companies (high turnover). I guess I was just concerned if the company I would be applying to would want to speak to someone even more higher up or someone that was still employed there.
For the first job, I like the suggestion of just contacting the HR department and giving them a heads up, it was a huge company and they should have records. The second company, I just can't see my former boss being willing to be a reference, she's not a very nice person and blew off my other co-workers that have asked for similar requests. My other co-worker ended up not getting teaching credit towards her teaching credential program a few years later because ex-boss refused/didn't understand how to to fill out her paper work.

Cali.in.UK

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Re: Work references and language barrier
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2014, 03:25:19 PM »
The main thing with the language barrier is: If a potential employer would call, they wouldn't be able to speak to anyone and ask questions about my work ethic/history.

Another Sarah

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Re: Work references and language barrier
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2014, 04:57:53 AM »
I think what you're suggesting sounds fine. I think if the HR department can say you worked there and your former bosses can provide a character reference it shouldn't matter that they don't work there anymore either, they were your boss at the time.
With the second, tricky boss, I'd circumvent her by getting the HR confirmation, then I'd speak to one of the other workers.

I'm guessing you were a TA or a student teacher from your mention that you were studying, if so could you get one of the teachers you assisted to do it in a "I supervised Cali when she was in my lessons" kind of way? If you were a teacher, I'd just get a co worker to do it

BigBadBetty

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Re: Work references and language barrier
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2014, 10:25:45 AM »
I would list a co-worker and state that your former boss doesn't speak English. I would also list your boss and the language that she speaks. You never know...one of our HR people speaks Portuguese. She studied abroad in college and became fluent. Another manager speaks Mandarin and Japanese. I know that we don't care about letters of recommendation. We want a reference that we can contact and ask questions.

Margo

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Re: Work references and language barrier
« Reply #8 on: Yesterday at 05:48:25 AM »
Are you applying for jobs in the UK?  I ask as it is very common here to just provide a factual reference which simply confirms that you were employed, and the dates of your employment, which is presumably something which the HR department of the company you worked for could provide, even if the people you worked for are not longer there.

Good luck in your job hunt!

Cali.in.UK

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Re: Work references and language barrier
« Reply #9 on: Yesterday at 03:04:44 PM »
Are you applying for jobs in the UK?  I ask as it is very common here to just provide a factual reference which simply confirms that you were employed, and the dates of your employment, which is presumably something which the HR department of the company you worked for could provide, even if the people you worked for are not longer there.

Good luck in your job hunt!

Thanks ^^. I'm actually applying for jobs in the US now. So when I was working in Asia, the first company might have an HR department because it was a big company but the second place definitely does not. HR was not a part of most schools when I worked there. They are not government run and I was never clear on their policies but some of the schools were just owned by a family and the individual/couple would act as boss/owner/principal/secretary etc. So definitely no HR department.