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Consider Investing in a Job Reference Check

A reader recently sent me this question:

I am currently employed, but given six weeks notice to find other employment. I've been on the job for 12 years with no issues. The last six months have been under a new administration and my new immediate supervisor has been very difficult to please and hard to get along with. I'm performing the same duties, in the same manner for the past 5-6 years.


I am concerned about the type of reference she will give and also how to answer an interview question similar to, "What will your current supervisor say about you?"

My response: This is not an uncommon scenario. When we get a new boss, it's like getting a new job. Unfortunately, we miss out on the opportunity to "interview" for that job to make sure we are the right candidate for the new management. This puts us in a losing situation. Why? The new boss usually has their own ideas for what they want to do at the company and who they want reporting to them. This often may not include people who have been with the company a long time because the new manager assumes you'll either be too set in your ways, or spend time comparing them to the previous manager. The result? The kind of forced turnover you are experiencing. Sadly, as an at-will employee, there isn't much you can do. My suggestion is to ask both the manager and HR how references will be handled after your departure. You should inquire as to what will be said and even get it in writing if you can. Once you have left, I'd consider investing in a job reference check. This will help you confirm what you were told about the way your reference would be handled is the truth. A good reference check company can even help you deal with an unfair reference by drafting a "cease and desist" letter that will hopefully make the company stop giving a bad reference without you having to take them to court. I always advise people to avoid taking a former employer to court if you can. Why? If you sue, it can pretty much ruin your chances of getting hired in the future because employers are allowed to ask if you've ever sued a former employer. As you can imagine, once you say "yes" you end up in the "no" pile. Anyone else want to share their thoughts and/or advice for this reader? J.T. O’Donnell is the founder of CAREEREALISM.com and CEO of CareerHMO.com, a web-based career development company. Photo credit: Shutterstock
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