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Is Your Past Boss An Overlooked Job Search Resource?

Is Your Past Boss An Overlooked Job Search Resource?


Does the thought of calling your previous boss to help with your job search make you cringe just a little? Wait…hear me out. Even if you were fired, there still could be a way for you to make that call and come away with something great. If you left on good terms, the chances are even better that a past boss could be a wonderful source of opportunity.

Related: 4 Great Resources For Career Changers

Why a past boss?

The first thing you may think of when considering telling a previous boss about your job search is, “Will they think I’m asking them for a job?” Or, “Should I go back to work for them?” Neither is the goal you’re looking for here.

Consider this: A previous boss probably knows more people than you do, at a higher level. They know others who are hiring, and might let you know about it (or even recommend you to that person who’s hiring). A past boss is the best reference you can have.

Also, someone you’ve worked for in the past knows you pretty well, because they’ve worked with you. They will remember things about you and your work, and they could very well offer you sound insight into how to sell yourself to employers in your job search. If you’re brave, you can ask them what they liked and didn’t like about working with you, so you can be stronger moving forward. Some of this could be difficult to hear, but you will be much better off in the long run.

If they will be a reference for you, absolutely ask them what they would say. You always need to know what every reference would say about you.

What if you were fired?

Just because you were fired in one role, doesn’t mean they couldn’t recommend you for a different role. I’ve had people that I fired that I would recommend for a different kind of job than the one I fired them from. They just weren’t a good fit in that role, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t be great in another one.

What if you don’t know how that person feels about you?

I’ve spoken to many job seekers who were afraid to call on an old boss because they weren’t sure what kind of reception they would get. There is no other way to get past this than to just do it. The best that could happen is that this person would be an extremely positive reference for you. This is the case a large portion of the time. The worst that could happen is that they will tell you what they didn’t like about you. That may be difficult to hear, but it doesn’t really hurt anything. It’s important that you know, and it’s important that you gain that reference if you can. You may very well be pleasantly surprised.

What if you know you burned a bridge?

If it’s possible, now is a good time to repair that relationship. If enough time has passed, it may be easier than you expect. If it isn’t easy, it’s still worth doing. Maintaining positive relationships with as many people as you can will only benefit you down the road.

Are you in a job search? Check out my blog series, Fastest Way to Find a Job.  It has 25 tips for a super-fast, super-successful job search.

This post was originally published at an earlier date.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here.

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Peggy McKee Career Coach – Peggy McKee is an expert resource and a dedicated advocate for job seekers. Known as the Sales Recruiter from Career Confidential, her years of experience as a nationally-known recruiter for sales and marketing jobs give her a unique perspective and advantage in developing the tools and strategies that help job seekers stand head and shoulders above the competition. Peggy has been named #1 on the list of the Top 25 Most Influential Online Recruiters by HR Examiner, and has been quoted in articles from CNN, CAP TODAY, Yahoo! HotJobs, and the Denver Examiner.