WorkWise BlogTip: Negative references can haunt you

culp@workwise.netDecember 30, 2012 


Don’t be misled by the rumor that employers who provide references only give dates of employment and job title.

While reasons for not landing a job abound, Jeff Shane says to consider whether you’re getting negative references ( You might be surprised to learn what he’s found out about candidates from reference-checking interviews his firm has conducted.

How weak or strong was a candidate?

“I cannot think of any strengths,” Shane says one reference reported, “only weaknesses.” Another confessed that while the individual must have had strengths, “Nothing jumps out at me.”

Why did the candidate leave?

“I fired him!” one employer stated. “He and his buddy had some illegal things going.”

Shane also points out that an employer citing “a rather delicate and awkward situation” recommended a call to previous employers, something he’d failed to do. In a third case, an investigation had done a former employee in.

How did the employers rate a candidate’s skills?

One former employee, it seems, “couldn’t make a decision if his life depended on it,” an employer commented. Shane says another “couldn’t manage around a group of children.”

An employer recollecting a woman’s financial skills vividly, responded, “That’s why we had a major layoff. We left her in charge of the finances!”

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