Dear Lifehacker, I work in a call centre for a large international company, and I've been recently thinking of moving on. I have been told by various employees and mangers that it is company policy that staff here cannot be contacted for a reference. It's very disappointing as I believe I have been a valuable employee and I'm sure my manager would give me a glowing reference if he were allowed. This is the first time I have encountered this in my 15 years of working and thought it was really weird. Is this normal in big companies these days? And what can I do about it? Thanks, Referred Pain
Call centre picture from Shutterstock
This isn't the norm but it does happen; especially in high turnover jobs where multiple employees leave the company on a monthly basis. The first thing to do is check whether it's actually an policy or just hearsay (it's possible that certain managers imposed the rule themselves to avoid the aggravation).
One possible strategy is to ask for a written reference instead of a contact number. If you got along with your manager he/she will probably be happy to bash one out for you and it technically gets past the "do not contact" policy. As we noted in a previous Ask LH post, this also gives you more control over what is said about you -- the manager may even prefer to affix their name to a reference you write yourself.
Otherwise, the best policy is to be honest and explain your former employer bars reference checking for everyone -- if the company is reasonable, they should be willing to provide a written statement to that effect. And hey, it could be worse: at least you didn't divorce the boss' daughter!
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