In “Planet Perfection”, all managers would be wonderful and no disagreements would ever take place and the only bad references would be for former employees who deserved the bad reference. The harsh reality is that although companies have process and procedure in place to respond to a reference request, some managers are mean and vindictive and will set out to destroy people who were great employees and disregard their employers’ framework and policies.
Suggestions for overcoming a possible bad reference:
Own your failings: Sometimes you have a lousy reference from a job where you didn't do a great job, but you want to stay in the same field. Alternatively, you will have made a mistake by taking a job that you are not suited to and fail to grasp. Whilst you may have deserved your bad reference, promote the lessons learned and attempt to assure the job market that capable of doing a different job better than the last one. But, if you were rotten at the last job, you must make sure you don't repeat those same errors at the next job? If possible make peace with the lousy reference, apologise and tell them that you have learned from the experience. Whilst it may be impossible in some cases, other employers will appreciate your effort. Seek professional advice from a career consultant or trusted advisor if you are not comfortable delivering such a message.
Find a job in the bad manager's network: Managers with a bad reputation are generally well known and avoided! If you can find a vacancy in a department where another escapee from this department works you can explain, "Mr Un. Professional was my manager and..." and this person will empathise with you.
Overcome your own faults / How can I improve? As mentioned previously, a career advisor will put you on the right track. Career mistakes can happen – just because you have made a mistake, it doesn’t mean that will not be a success elsewhere. Be honest, in that situation, I'd document in my resume and letter that "I worked for Company abc as a xxxx and I was unsuitable for the role and this has reinforced my career clarity. This is one of the reasons I'm applying for a new job sector. I have researched the role and believe that I have the necessary skills and passion to add value to the team”. Most employers will still contact your previous employer but will not be fazed when they were told that you were lousy in your previous role.
Study further to ensure you strengthen your skills and eradicate problems arising due to a skills void.
Get executive coaching. (You don't have to be an executive for this.)
Step back to move forward: Be willing to take a lower-level job with a pay cut in order to learn more.
Credible Referees: Most HR Departments, expect to be able to contact a line manager and become very concerned if personal referees are suggested as a credible option. Ensure you have a credible list of referees and keep them updated if you have grown professionally. Such a simple process will strengthen your credibility.
If you are extremely concerned and feel a company is damaging your good name: Many companies have policies against giving references at all but fail to enforce it. However, a letter from a lawyer reminding them that the references they do give need to be honest, can generally remind the relevant parties of their responsibilities. If you are of the opinion that a former employer is neglecting to tell the truth, you can hire a reference checking firm to get an official reference and report back to you. If the provided information was false, you can instruct a lawyer send a letter to address the matter and secure a positive outcome. Whilst this is a major step, it can be necessary. Many reference checking firms have lawyers on staff to offer this service. It costs, but can be effective.
A bad reference doesn't have to be a career concluding. Maybe one of these tips may help if you're struggling with a bad reference. Please feel free to make contact if you need further assistance.
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As part of your consultation you will have access to advice regarding the following:
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Even If you’re an ideal candidate for the job, an out of date / poor resume can result in your application being immediately dismissed.
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I met Kevin via his LinkedIn Profile. Having read through some of his articles posted, he really understands the need of a job seeker. Following my enquiry of which was met with a rapid response, I instructed Kevin to prepare my resume and cover letter. The process was conducted via Skype and was very professional.
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Kevin - Thank you. When we closed our company due to the industry down turn, we were 4 very worried adults. Your resume writing and career advice was outstanding and gave us much needed confidence. I am pleased to say that we have all successfully secured new career roles.
Ravanelli Family - Carlton, VIC
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