Former Employer Gives Her Lukewarm Reference - The Career Doctor Blog

Eileen writes:

After being on the job market for several months — and a finalist for a number of jobs — I found out that my former employer may be giving me a marginal reference.

I am having some colleagues call to find out what he’s saying. But, if that’s true, how do I get around not giving him as a reference since I worked for that company for 14 years? That alone screams problem. I can’t have a potential employer call someone else at the company — any calls would be referred to my boss. It makes me wonder how many jobs I might have lost because of this.

The Career Doctor responds:

Yours is a tough situation because whenever you have had a long stint with one employer, it does indeed make it a bit harder to have references outside the company — but you have to do so.

I am kind of surprised to hear about the marginal reference given the litigious environment we are in — where most employers shy away from saying anything negative for fear of being sued by their former employee.

And while I do not want to discount the importance of references — some employers call every single reference you provide — I also think the stronger you are as a job candidate, the stronger you dominate the others competing for the job, the less likely a marginal reference is going to affect getting the offer… so, also take some time to strengthen your interviewing skills.

OK. Here are two ideas for improving your reference situation.

First, confront your former boss — in a professional way. Mention that you have heard s/he may not be giving you the strongest reference and ask if that is true, why is it true. Remind him/her of all your accomplishments and loyalty to the organization. Even if you can’t change his/her mind, you might get some interesting insight about how this boss really sees you.

Second, unless you reported directly to the president or CEO of the company, there is ALWAYS the possibility of using other people inside the firm as a reference. You could ask another manager you worked with, a co-worker, one of your employees, a supplier or contractor you worked with. Identify people you worked closely with who know your skills and ASK them to serve as a reference; you do NOT need to always use a direct boss as a reference.

Posted via web from AndyWergedal