How to Obtain a Reference from a Negative Employer

By Allison & Taylor

Be proactive in finding out what your former employers will say before they are contacted by prospective employers. You’ll better ensure there are no unpleasant surprises and that a negative reference won’t eliminate you from contention for a promising new job.

Perhaps you’ve experienced this scenario: your recent job interviews have been very promising, and your prospective new employer has indicated you either have the job, or will have it pending their reference checks of your former employers. However, you’re concerned that at least one (maybe more) of your former employers will torpedo your prospects by offering negative commentary about you.

What can you do?

Your best approach, says Allison & Taylor reference checking company, is to proactively learn (and perhaps orchestrate) your former employer’s input prior to their being contacted by a potential employer. Virtually every company has a formal policy of confirming your employment dates/title (only) when contacted for a reference.  Note this is more frequently adhered to by Human Resources, who is normally more aware of what they should/should not be saying, as opposed to former supervisors who are frequently overly talkative when offering a reference.

You should never assume that your former employer is doing what they are supposed to be doing.  To determine what they will actually say about you, it is best to use a third party reference checking firm such as Allison & Taylor (www.allisontaylor.com) who will contact your former employers and provide you with documentation on exactly what is being said (again, this input typically comes from Human Resources or your former supervisor).  If the input is unfavorable in any respect, you will have remedial options that will almost certainly discourage the negative reference from ever offering such commentary again.

As an alternative to remedial options, consider finding a more favorable reference person at your previous places of employment.  For example, in addition to a former supervisor, you may have interacted with other managers who might be more complimentary of your performance. Again, it would be prudent to have your own reference check(s) conducted on your reference candidates to ensure that they will be as supportive as you hope (or that at a minimum they will merely confirm your employment dates/title per company policy).  Another benefit to checking multiple references at your previous employer is that you will be able to select those who are most favorable when you identify reference contacts to a potential new employer.

Be proactive in finding out what your former employers will say before they are contacted by prospective employers.  You’ll better ensure there are no unpleasant surprises and that a negative reference won’t eliminate you from contention for a promising new job.

AllisonTaylor and its principals have been in the business of checking references for corporations and individuals since 1984.

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