Are bad job references inhibiting your success? Many of us can relate to this scenario: when completing an employment application, you are asked to identify a number of references (typically 3-5) for prospective employers to contact.  In order to put your best foot forward, you choose these references wisely and list those whom will provide the most glowing reviews of their professional abilities.

However, it’s unlikely that these well-chosen references will be the deciding factor on whether you get that hoped-for new position. The truth is, prospective employers look first at the name in “Former Supervisor” box on your job application, and whether you authorize it or not, your previous supervisor may well get a call from a prospective employer.

If you anticipate a poor reference from your former supervisor, what is your best course of action? One recommendation is to have a third-party reference checking firm like Allison & Taylor check your key references prior to beginning your job search. If you receive a “neutral” (employment dates/title) confirmation then you can rest easier that this reference will not cost you future employment. However, if a supervisor, HR representative or other party offers negative commentary about you (which, unfortunately, is a very common occurrence) consider a “Cease & Desist” letter issued through an attorney to the senior management of your former employer.

In summary, understand that the job references who will “make or break” you are typically your former supervisor and Human Resources department. Never assume that they will follow the verbal indication they may have given you – you simply have too much at stake.  Instead, conduct your due diligence and have their input documented by a third party.  If negativity is uncovered, you will have some level of recourse as described above and ensure that your new employment opportunity presents itself sooner, than later.

 

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