As a manager, are you obligated to be a reference to a former employee? A letter-writers asks Ask A Manager’s Allison Green about the issue, and whether a small token of gratitude is required to former managers who act as references.
“It’s generally considered a professional obligation, if the person requesting the reference did good work. Certainly if a manager working for me weren’t returning reference calls for good employees, I’d speak with her about it — because it’s part of the unofficial agreement between employers and employees that you’ll be responsive to those”.
On the other hand, there is a certain level of favor-doing when acting as a reference. That is, returning phone calls promptly, devoting time to answering questions appropriately, and ensuring the skills of the candidates in question are properly highlighted.
Ultimately, most managers enjoy helping former coworkers find new employment and tend not to mind the reference process. While no gifts are needed, a nice ‘Thank You’ note is always welcome.