5 Reasons Negative References Will Cost You a Job Even in an Upbeat Economy

It’s currently a job-seeker’s market, and employers are eager to hire. Yet countless job seekers are finding they’re not getting callbacks for positions for which they are more than qualified.

Where is the disconnect here? Unfortunately, it’s frequently due to unfavorable reference feedback given to the job seeker’s new potential employer.

Many job seekers are making 3 assumptions that are often incorrect:

1. Only those references that I list will be contacted.

2. If a former employer is contacted, they will simply redirect the call to Human Resources.

3. Human Resources will only confirm my employment dates and title as company policy.
Don’t make the mistake of taking a good reference for granted.

Here are 5 reasons why every job seeker should have their references checked before applying for a new job:

1. The company’s comment policy may not be what you think it is. Reference checking firm JobReferences says many of their clients feel certain that a former employer “won’t tell you anything, it’s against policy.” Too often, they’re unpleasantly surprised to find out this is not the case; employers often say unflattering things about former employees. This is particularly true of former bosses/supervisors.

2. Your reference may not be saying what you expect. A lukewarm reference can be just as damaging as a negative one. Is your reference presenting you in the best possible light? If not, it’s time to rethink your references, because if that person’s feedback is anything less than glowing, they’re damaging your chances of landing that job, not helping them.

3. Your information may not match the HR records. A former employer may have a different set of employment dates, position title or supervisor listed than what the employee has presented. This type of discrepancy may suggest to an employer that the candidate is being less than truthful about their employment dates, title or responsibilities.

4. Your record may have been omitted from the HR records entirely. This happens more often than people might think, especially in the case of mergers, where not all records make the transfer into a new system. It’s also frequently the case with the self-employed; many companies do not hold records for a contractor in their HR system. It doesn’t look favorable when an employer calls and is told that there is no record of your ever having worked for their company.

5. Your reference contact may no longer work for the company. Many job seekers make the mistake of not staying in close contact with the person they intend to use for a reference. If the reference is no longer there, a reference checker may be shuffled through the system and end up with someone who doesn’t know them, or who won’t cast them in a positive light.

Another reason to check your references. It’s unlikely that a prospective employer will ever reveal that an unfavorable reference was the reason they didn’t hire you. Instead, you’re more likely to hear “We decided to go in a different direction”, and the real reason will continue to cost you job after job.

Be proactive! Utilize a professional reference-checking firm such as JobReferences to be sure you that your references are casting you in the best light. If you find a reference is sabotaging your chances for new employment, a Cease & Desist letter can be used to better ensure that unfavorable references will not offer damaging commentary to your future employment prospects.

For more information, please visit myjobreferences.com

About Allison

Allison & Taylor Inc. and its principals have been in the business of checking references for individuals and corporate accounts since 1984. We have successfully built our brand and corporate recognition and have been recommended by industry specialists such as The New York Times award-winning author Martin Yate (“Knock ‘Em Dead Résumés”). Numerous articles have been published about our business in newspapers and magazines including The Christian Science Monitor, The Wall Street Journal, Glamour Magazine, New Woman, Worth, National Business Employment Weekly, The Detroit News, and The St. Petersburg Times.