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Asked by Abbi on September 9, 2017

How many "degrees of separation" is it appropriate to claim a connection, use someone as an employee reference, or ask for someone to hand in a resume in for you?

Answered by Phil, Hiring Expert at Merck & Co., Inc., on September 13, 2017

Hi there - I don't know that there is necessarily a "formula" or a set number in terms of from whom you can ask for a reference. In my mind, the biggest things are to make sure that whomever you ask is aware of the request and aware of the role(s) that you are using them as a reference for, and choosing someone who is able to speak to your experiences, personality, and work ethic. I always recommend networking during an internship or a co-op experience as much as possible, because those folks will be the most likely to be able to give you an outstanding reference or letter of recommendation. Keeping those relationships warm after you leave will make the process of asking for a recommendation or reference much less awkward in the future. Best of luck! -Phil

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Answered by Dean, Hiring Expert at Archer Daniels Midland, on November 14, 2017

Hi,
Great questions, but there is really no clear cut answer for any of them. Referencing a connection to establish a relationship is valuable, but make sure that they are aware that you will be referencing them and that they have a direct connection with the employer.  As far as an employee reference, if they are willing to provide you with a reference regardless of degrees of separation, that is fine but you should ensure that they can adequately assess your performance.
Lastly, if someone is willing to hand in a resume for you, that is great!  But I would recommend you do some due diligence as to who hands in your resume. You would not want someone with a bad reputation at the company handing in your resume.
Good Luck!

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