Career Advice: 7 Reasons Why Former Bosses Give Bad References to Former Employees

Source: Allison Taylor

2016 is slated to be the year of new jobs, better jobs and upgrading careers. Job references play a crucial role in this quest for career betterment.

Corporate Policy Is Not Honored – Approximately 50% of Past Bosses Are Offering Negative Commentary

2016 is slated to be the year of new jobs, better jobs and upgrading careers. Job references play a crucial role in this quest for career betterment.

Many of us are aware that a former employer is only supposed to offer limited information about previous employees – typically, employment dates and title. While the track record of corporate Human Resources is generally (but not always) consistent with this policy, it is a different story when considering former supervisors. Most job applications request that information, “To Whom Did You Report?”

While there are a number of reasons why a former supervisor might offer potentially damaging information about a job seeker, the bottom line is that one should never assume that a prior supervisor(s) is following company policy when they are contacted about a reference.

So, what are the reasons why supervisory references may be unfavorable? Seven possible reasons include:

  1. They simply may not have liked the person, or their performance.
  2. They may be unhappy that the person left the organization (or are thinking about leaving the organization) and are either retaliating/discouraging someone else from hiring this job seeker.
  3. They may fall in the “bad boss” or “bully” category.
  4. They may have issues pertaining to a person’s age, religion or sex.
  5. They may be having a “bad day,” offering more revealing commentary than they normally might not.
  6. They may think the person is not qualified for the position for which they are being considered. They may even be envious that one of their team is being considered for such a position.
  7. They may simply be offering the truth as they see it, not being mindful – or aware – that they should not be offering that level of commentary about a former employee.

Given the substantial number of negative supervisory references, what is a job seeker to do? 

A useful first step would be to determine if a former supervisor is indeed a reference problem, by having an organization like Allison & Taylor Reference Checking conduct a reference check on their behalf. If a former supervisor’s commentary is in any way unfavorable, the job seeker will have some form of recourse in discouraging them from offering such commentary again. (One such remedy is the Cease & Desist letter that has an extremely high rate of success.)

Bottom line, it is critical that the job seeker vet their references prior to seeking new employment. Sadly, too many candidates only become aware of a negative reference once a number of promising job opportunities have passed them by. With the advent of the New Year, consider making reference checking one of your resolutions to ensure a fast employment start for 2016.

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