Many unsuccessful job seekers come to the realization that a negative reference(s) from a past employer is the source of their problems. Typically, a former employer is only supposed to offer limited information about previous employees, e.g., employment dates and title.
While the track record of corporate Human Resources is generally (but not always) consistent with this policy, it is a different story when considering former supervisors.
While there are a number of reasons why your former supervisor might offer potentially damaging information about you, the bottom line is that you should never assume that your prior supervisor(s) is following company policy when they are contacted about offering you a reference.
What are 7 reasons your former supervisory references may be unfavorable? They include:
1. They simply did not like you, or your performance.
2. They are unhappy you left the organization (or are thinking about leaving the organization) and are either retaliating/discouraging someone else from hiring you.
3. They may fall in the “bad boss” or “bully” category. This person is vindictive and the reason you left the job.
4. They may have issues pertaining to your age or sex.
5. They may be having a “bad day” when contacted for a reference, offering more revealing commentary than they normally would.
6. They may think you are not qualified for the position for which you are being considered. They may even be envious that you are being considered for such a position.
7. They may simply be offering the truth as they see it, not being mindful – or aware – that they should not be offering that level of commentary about you.
Reference checking companys estimate that approximately 47% of all reference checks they conduct reflect some degree of employer negativity.
Given the substantial number of negative supervisory references, what is a job seeker to do? A useful first step would be to utilize an organization to conduct a reference check(s) on their behalf. If a former supervisor’s commentary is in any way unfavorable, the job seeker will have some form of recourse in discouraging them from offering such commentary again. (One such remedy is the Cease & Desist letter that has an extremely high rate of success.)
Bottom line, it is critical that the job seeker vet their references prior to seeking new employment. Sadly, too many candidates only become aware of a negative reference once a number of promising job opportunities have passed them by. With the new year representing a peak hiring time, consider making reference checking a priority in gaining that next new job.
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