There are a lot of job seekers out there getting fed up with being turned down from positions they know they’re qualified for. Their resume was stacked with relevant experience. Their cover letter highlighted all the appropriate skills, strengths and ambitions. They even crushed the interview. So then, why are they still getting the, “We regret to inform you-” emails? Well, while you were doing all the walking, one (or more) of your references might have been doing all the talking.
“You should never assume what other people will say about you,” says Executive VP Jeff Shane of Allison & Taylor Inc., a professional reference-checking company. That rule-of-thumb applies to all facets of life. References from a former workplace, can make or break your chances at landing a job and with nothing more than a pause before answering, “…can you enthusiastically recommend this person?” There is a code of ethics employers usually follow when providing a reference, but don’t expect your past managers to follow them.
When a prospecting employer calls your current or past boss, they have one goal and that is to dig up any spec of dirt they can find on you. If the person on the other end of the line isn’t talking, they will ask to speak with someone who will. In reality, their calling to find a reason not to hire you; your resume, cover letter and interview were evidence enough of your qualifications. Even if supervisors try to pull the, “I can’t say anymore due to liabilities” card, recruiters will find their way around that too. Sometimes, it would seem that checking off the box that gives the new employer permission to contact the former would solve the problem cut and clear. However, that raises a red flag with a “don’t hire me” sticker on it as well.
Jeff Shane further states, “Any negative thing can knock you out in this job market. There are lots of very good candidates for most positions, so any weak link is often fatal.” To eliminate this from ever becoming an issue, create relationships that give employers or colleagues nothing but good things to say about you. Don’t shoot the breeze about Jack’s chronic bad breath or Jill’s love of micro-managing. Keep conversation topics neutral, or non work-related all together. Try Googling yourself and make sure there is no public dirt on you as well. If you know of someone in the office who has it out for you, calm the waters between you. Most company policy disallows the divulgence of any information outside employee dates, so the people talking trash know they’re already doing something illegal. Bottom line, never assume people will say anything good. Unless you see them write it, proceed with caution.