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02/28/09
Former Boss Sabotages Reference Checks
Filed under: Networking, Interview, Performance
Posted by: John Hadley @ 1:45 pm

“I have one documented reference check on my most recent former boss, which shows that she talked in detail responding to questions about items in my resume with the caller.  This is totally against company policy, which I drafted while I worked there and implemented with our department, which is to only verify dates of employment and titles on telephone requests for information on former employees, and not provide any other information on an employee without a written authorization from the employee to do so. She said things like this: 

- when asked if I provided full scope recruiting assistance as stated in my resume, she “clarified” that I did not recruit employees, just did recruiting coordination. 

This is false, because I had full involvement in recruiting from administering the employee requisition system through placing employment ads to drug screening and employment reference checking to interviewing to preparing job offers to performing new hire orientations. 

Why my former boss is doing this is a mystery to me.  We did not part on bad terms, and I was specifically told that I was not being cut due to any performance or personal issues.  I had seven years of good to excellent performance evaluations and various recognition awards on a regular basis.

Whatever the reason, it really worries and bothers me.  It is more and more apparent that I am losing financially by losing opportunities because of what someone is saying about me.  I know it is defamation and I know I could go to a lawyer but I’m much more interested in other more creative, positive ways to gain a new career opportunity beyond the reach of this person’s bad intentions. 

I don’t know if being proactive and saying that my most recent boss is not giving me a truthful reference and I don’t know why and I don’t want employers contacting her would be something that will cripple my job prospects as much as letting them call and talk to her.

It is looking like the best thing to do at this point is to contact her and ask her not to give any information about me other than verifying my employment, per company policy, possibly through my lawyer.  I think it will be better not to have a real reference from her than to have her giving out false information that is costing me job offers.  Someone suggested I ask her for a written reference to give employers instead of a call, and I guess I could try that, but I’m afraid she’ll say no because I got a (weak) letter of reference with my severance agreement. I have been more focused on finding ways to tell prospective employers verbally that they do not have my permission to talk to her and explain it in a positive way.  I do have plenty of other references from people who know my skills, experience, abilities, interests, character and work ethics, but she is a key, being my most recent direct supervisor for the last seven years.”

That’s a very frustrating position to be in!

First thought - what evidence do you have that it is your former boss’s bad reference that is the problem?  Have you been told that by the company after their reference check?  Are you certain there isn’t more to it than that, and whatever feedback from the boss is just the easy excuse they use for turning you down?

Assuming it truly is the boss, examine carefully what the boss would be saying about you and why.  What, if anything, did you contribute to the situation that might lead him / her to give negative feedback?

Next, think about what you have done or can do to ensure that whatever led to the negative feedback will never happen again.  Construct your confident story about the situation, what you learned from it, and how you will deal with these situations in the future.  No one expects perfection, and everyone has made mistakes in the past.  The key is to show that you’ve learned from it and won’t make the same mistake in the future.

Finally, at the point where you need to share info about past bosses, and there is a possibility of a reference check, share the bad news yourself.  If the hiring manager finds this out first from your past boss, he/she is going to feel you were hiding something, and your credibility is shot.  Be very up front.  Tell them that you didn’t separate from your past employer on the best of terms, and this is why.  And most importantly, this is what you’ve learned from it. Convince me that this is a problem in the past that won’t be a problem in the future.

You might also try reaching out to your past boss, very professionally, requesting that he/she not comment on your work (either positively or negatively) to prospective employers.  And seek positive references you can get from others that can counterbalance whatever the employer might say.

4 Responses to “Former Boss Sabotages Reference Checks”

  1. Joyce Martin Says:
    It sounds like Mr. Hadley and me used the same service (badreferences.com). If so, I know they use Certified Court Reporters to document their report. I used them for a six-figure settlement. At first the HR Dept. wouldn’t listen to me, because they thought I didn’t have any proof. After I produced my evidence, however, they were very cooperative and terminated my former boss and compensated me for lost wages and other damages.
  2. Zachary Farina Says:
    A Recruiter suggested badreferences.com, but wouldn’t tell me why. Their report explained why–I was getting trashed by my supervisor. After he was fired, my Recruiter loved me (or my commission).
  3. Slate Levy Says:
    I used their Canadian office (same service I guess). Their report showed my ex-supervisor was slandering me to potential employers. My attorney got a pretty good settlement and my ex-supervisor got fired. How’s that for justice!
  4. Anonymous Says:
    I found johnhadley.jhacareers.com very informative. The article is professionally written and I feel like the author knows the subject very well. johnhadley.jhacareers.com keep it that way.

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