Prepare For A Bad Job Reference Before It Happens

Prepare for a Bad Job Reference Before It Happens

Nobody's perfect, and sometimes you leave a job with a bad taste in your manager's mouth. If you know they're going to give you a less-than-stellar reference, tackle it head on before it happens.

Photo by Samuel Mann

Nick Corcodilos of Ask the Headhunter recommends you call your old boss and ask for their permission to add you as a reference — even if you know your new employer is already planning on calling your previous bosses. This will often open up the opportunity for you to clear the air, which may help them see you in a better light before they give that reference.

However, that isn't foolproof, and when you think it still isn't going to go your way, just own up to it:

Even if the reference is unfavourable, a smart employer will rely first on her own judgement — and ask you to explain your old boss's comments. So, anticipate the question and be prepared with a good answer that is honest and not defensive.

Then there's the tactical approach. Tell the new manager (Ann) what your old boss (Brenda) is likely to say before they talk. Since you cannot block that conversation, own up to the facts and impress Ann with your candour.

It won't always win you the job, but when you have no other options, it's probably the most graceful way to handle the situation.

How to Fix a Bad Reference the Hard Way [Ask the Headhunter]


Comments

    Sorry but the job market is so competitive that most of the time a bad rap from your old boss will prove fatal. Why go would an employer go to the hassle when then are usually plenty of other suitable candidates?

    Better strategy IMHO is to use someone else within the firm so that it isn't obvious you're avoiding listing your previous boss.

    Last edited 30/04/15 10:15 am

      Exactly.

      Even if the reference is unfavourable, a smart employer will rely first on her own judgement — and ask you to explain your old boss’s comments
      Sorry but once a new boss or HR speaks to your old boss and gets unfavourable feedback, they drop you like a tonne of bricks without telling you why or giving you the opportunity to explain your side of the story. Most recruitment firms in Australia just dont do this so lets not even assume this is a possibility. They just want to fill the role fast with the best candidate that hits all the requirements and has all positive feedback. As @lunchbox99 said, just use someone else within the firm that is at a similar or same level of management as your boss that you have worked with enough that they know what you do, what you've done, and who you are to give you positive feedback. Avoid old bosses with grips like a sick kid at day care.

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