When a reader asked a question about what she could do when she found out an old boss was badmouthing her on reference checks, Ask Annie gives high praise to Allison & Taylor reference checking services.
Dear Annie: I’m in a terrible spot. About four years ago, right out of college, I got a job as part of a new-product launch team at a big consumer products company. Everything was going great. Then, two years ago, my boss was replaced by someone who just didn’t like me. No matter how hard I tried, our personalities were like oil and water, and we just never clicked.
So I wasn’t too surprised when I was among the first to get laid off during staff cutbacks last spring. The shock came last week. After several months of job hunting and half a dozen interviews that went nowhere, the hiring manager at one company where I applied recently called and told me my most recent boss, whom I gave as a reference, is saying bad things about me. (Among other negative remarks, he said I was “flighty.”)
My old company has a formal policy in the employee manual against telling anyone anything except dates of employment and job title. Should I tell someone at the company that my old boss is violating the policy? Should I call him and ask why he is saying these things? Should I get a lawyer? [Unfortunately, my first boss there, who liked me, has since passed away.] Help! — Just Joan
Dear J.J.: The hiring manager who tipped you off did you a favor. Most people who are being badmouthed by their references never find out who’s saying what — they just don’t get hired.
Moreover, while most big companies (and many small ones) have a formal policy such as you describe, not all references abide by it. Heidi Allison, president of reference checking firm Allison & Taylor, says about half the calls her staffers make turn up unexpected trouble.