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Resumes Win Interviews, References Land You the Job

5 Proactive Steps to Take When You Know Your Employment Reference is Negative

DETROIT (October 25, 2011) - References: if you’re looking for a new job or career, they will surely play a role in your hiring process. Since we’ve all heard that former employers are only supposed to confirm your previous employment dates and title, the reference check process shouldn’t be problematic, right?

Well, perhaps – but you better not count on it. The staff at Allison & Taylor Reference Checking speaks to references every day, and report that almost 50% of references offer lukewarm or even downright negative feedback. “Many people are completely blindsided by a bad reference - they never realized there was an issue,” reports Jeff Shane, Vice-President, Allison & Taylor. “Bad references can put a sudden halt to a candidate’s search for that great new job”.

In some instances, the job seeker may even have gotten the negative input directly from their former employer, e.g. “You’ll never work in this industry again!” (To read similar comments documented by Allison & Taylor, click here.)

If you know you have a bad reference, here are some possible options:

1. Eliminate any mention of the reference from your resume or application forms (if possible), instead offering someone more likely to give a positive assessment of your skills and contribution.

2. If you cannot eliminate the reference from employer consideration, address any potential issues when references are requested. “Mr. Jones was my former supervisor, but we didn’t share the same perspective on some key issues. I’d recommend that you also speak with Ms. Smith, to give you a more balanced assessment of my contribution to that company.”

3. If you feel it unavoidable that a prospective employer will contact your negative reference - get proactive! Consider contacting that person directly and asking whether you can work out a mutually agreeable response to reference requests. You may be able to gain their consent to offering a neutral reference – confirming only employment dates and title – and perhaps even a verbalization of what they view as your more positive attributes.

4. If you can’t come to terms on an agreeable response, find out the company’s policy on providing a reference. Is your reference following policy? If not, contact them again and remind them that adherence to corporate policy would be in their own best interest.

5. If policy does not protect you, or if a reference continues to malign you after you’ve taken the previously listed steps, you may wish to consider a Cease & Desist letter. You may also have cause for further legal action and can consult an attorney regarding your legal rights.

6. Take care your employment references, they are a valuable asset. For some ideas that will help keep your references praising your skills click here.

Remember, what you don’t know can hurt you. If you suspect that a reference is communicating career-damaging information to potential employers, contact Allison & Taylor at www.AllisonTaylor.com, or call 800- 651-2470. Don’t assume you know what your references are saying - be sure of it.

About Allison & Taylor:

Allison & Taylor and its principals have been in the business of checking references for corporations and individuals since 1984. Allison & Taylor is headquartered in Rochester, Mich. For further details on services and procedures please visit http://www.allisontaylor.com/.

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