Wednesday, March 6, 2013

7 Dangerous Myths Of Job References

The job looks good, but do you?

Reprinted with permission from


Thinking about your prospects for landing that new job? You should think first about what your former boss and other references will say about you. There is no doubt that, for many job searchers, a person’s previous employers will have a direct bearing on their future. However, more than a few job seekers are under erroneous impressions about what they former employers are allowed to (or what they will) say – here are some commonly held myths:

Myth No. 1: “Companies are not allowed to say anything negative about a former employee.” 

Reality: While many companies may have policies dictating that only title, dates of employment and eligibility for rehire can be discussed, their employees at both the supervisory and HR level frequently violate such policies. Due to human nature, providing a reference may be an emotional call for some. How about the boss with whom you had philosophical differences or the supervisor who sexually harassed you? Maybe a boss was just jealous of you? Approximately fifty percent (50%) of Allison & Taylor’s clients receive a bad reference, despite the strict policies in place.

Myth No. 2: “Most corporations direct reference check requests to their Human Resources departments, and these people won’t say anything bad about me.” 

Reality: Most human resources professionals will follow proper protocol. However, in addition to what is said, prospective employers often evaluate how something is said. In other words, they listen to tone of voice and note the HR staffer’s willingness to respond to their questions – both critical factors. Often heard is “Check this person’s references very carefully”, an ominous statement from any perspective. A human resources department will often divulge if a person is eligible for re-hire. Are you?

Myth No. 3: “If I had any issues with my former boss, I can simply leave him or her off my reference list and nobody will ever know.”

Reality: Many companies actually check references without your even being aware of it. They conduct a check to determine where you have worked in the past and then call the human resources department or office administrator, frequently at each employer, for a reference. This practice is also used to determine if a prospective employee has left any significant places of employment off of a resume – a bad move that should be avoided.

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