How employers relate to bad references

If parting with one of the former bosses didn’t go smoothly or there were major conflicts, then when searching for a new job the fear gnaws: “What if they start collecting information about me from old places of work?” Should applicants be afraid of unflattering reviews? And do recruiters believe bad recommendations?

When they ask for a recommendation

Recruiters can have many reasons to ask you for contacts of managers who are ready to vouch for a candidate for a job. The most common are doubts, traditions, and requirements of the security service for specialists in certain areas.

If the recruiter has several applicants for one position, he will try to find out more about each of them in order to make a final decision. The ambiguous impression of an interview with you is also an occasion to call the previous boss.

Verification occurs in two scenarios . If this is a top-level position or work is related to finances and important documents, banking or other special areas, then the company’s security service will most likely collect information about the candidate. Moreover, information will be collected through all possible channels.

In simpler cases, the recruiter will limit himself to asking the candidate for the contacts of the previous employers, but it’s not a fact that he will call them.

Before you write a resume or call the interviews of the contacts of former employers for recommendations, first contact these people and ask for their permission. Firstly, according to the law, it is impossible for anyone to transfer the personal data of other persons (and the last name, first name, middle name, phone number and other contact information relate to personal data) without their consent. Secondly, this is a rule of good form.

“We collect information only with the consent of the candidate. We ask him for the names and phone numbers of those people who may be his references. Here the candidate must act wisely – it is worth calling first those whose contacts he gives. It is necessary to warn previous managers that they will be called about the recommendation. And ask to characterize your work, ”advises Mark Levin.

By law, information can only be collected about you with your consent. But in life, everything is somewhat different: if you did not ask for interviews for recommendations at the interview and consent to verify the information about you, this does not mean that there will be no verification. Recruiters have their own narrow professional circle of contacts, and nothing prevents them from exchanging opinions about particular candidates informally.

Do they believe the only bad recommendation

It depends on the position level and experience of the recruiter. An experienced HR specialist will not rely on one opinion and will try to collect alternative assessments, heed his own impression of communicating with the applicant, will weigh the risks and benefits – in a word, he will evaluate the whole picture. Everyone understands that the reasons for poor reviews are not always objective – there is personal hostility. By the way, a bad review sometimes “flies” from where it is not expected at all.

Elena Londar recalled such a case: “I was looking for a recruiter in a bank. The girl with whom I interviewed previously worked in a private consulting company. She said that there was a wonderful leader who would be happy to give feedback on her work. Usually I do not ask for recommendations, but the girl spoke so well about the previous employer that for some reason I decided to call him. There was a choice between the two candidates, and in both cases there was something to think about – I wanted to decide.

When I called the former leader of this candidate, he criticized her like that! He called it irresponsible and infantile, although he could not give specific examples. I was surprised that the girl was sure of a good recommendation, but in fact received such a bad review. ”

Despite the unflattering recommendation, Elena confided in her own intuition and accepted that candidate for work. And I did not regret it at all.

“I worked very successfully with her for several years. She turned out to be a strong recruiter – she simultaneously led 50 positions at various levels. This is a difficult task, but it did a great job. I am pleased that I made the right choice then. And if I listened to her former leader, I would have lost a good employee, ”says Elena. – Later I warned my colleague that it is not worth giving the contacts of that ex-leader for recommendations. I did not discuss with her how they described her work, I just made it clear that the feedback from there would not be in her favor. ”

Unfortunately, stories with subjective unflattering recalls do not always end with a happy end.

“Somehow I picked up a candidate for the position of financial director. She successfully passed the first two stages of the interview. But after a check by the security service, a refusal came: they called the previous head, and he spoke negatively about the former employee, ”says Mark Levin. – When I began to understand what was the matter, it turned out that the candidate had a personal relationship with that leader. But the security service was no longer interested in these details – when it comes to leadership positions, any negative feedback can play a decisive role. ”

This is one of the reasons career counselors often advise against crossing the line of purely official relationships with colleagues. Not only novels, but also close friendship, one day can turn into a personal insult and personal accounts, and you will have to pay with a career.

Verification of recommendations is not carried out for any position. And the information that the employer will seek also differs for candidates from different fields. For example, a job seeker with a working profession is usually found out whether a person is inclined to absenteeism, whether he is observing safety precautions and labor discipline. For candidates for leadership positions, feedback on loyalty to the interests of the company, stock of character, and ability to get along with people are important.

What to do if you are waiting for a bad review

It is clear that the best way to avoid bad reviews is to do your job well and not make enemies. That is, to behave politely and tolerably with colleagues, not to participate in intrigue, to avoid conflicts, and, having decided to quit, leave beautifully without burning bridges. But in real life this is not always the case.

What if you have reason to expect a bad recommendation from one of the former employers? If your case is just one of those when applicants are usually meticulously checked (you get a job at a bank, apply for a top position, and so on), it is better to honestly warn the recruiter about your “skeleton in the closet.” Most likely, he will show up anyway, but your frankness will be a plus for you. In addition, it will matter how you explain the reasons why you are waiting for bad recommendations.

If you really “chopped wood” and the former boss has objective reasons to respond to you in a bad way, then make it clear that you realized the mistake and revised your approach to work. Everyone is wrong, but not everyone makes the right conclusions, and the latter is a valuable quality.

If you are afraid of a bad recall solely because of a personal conflict, try to talk about it as calmly as possible, without unnecessary emotions and “pouring mud” on your opponent. This in itself will recommend you from the best side.

Talking about your fears is closer to the end of the interview or when the recruiter himself asks you for contacts to recall from previous jobs, or asks about the reasons for dismissal.

No blackmail or fake reviews

The era when letters of recommendation on paper mattered long ago. Even if you bring a pack of such letters, they are unlikely to convince a recruiter of more than one direct appeal to one of your former employers.

Nevertheless, stories still happen when applicants try to cover up a problematic separation with a good written recommendation, not realizing that this will have the opposite effect.

“The company I worked for completed the project and was unable to offer the employee a new task,” says Elena Londar. – We peacefully discussed the situation with him, and the employee said that he would leave of his own free will. We agreed on the amount of payments, and he received all the money on time. Shortly before his dismissal, he asked for a written recommendation, and as soon as he received it, he came to the company with a lawyer. He said he would not quit, demanded a “golden parachute.” As a result, we parted by agreement of the parties, but the sediment remained very unpleasant.

After that, I was called twice by potential employers to ask about him. I honestly replied that there were no complaints about the quality of work, but we did not part very well: despite the agreements, the person behaved ugly and began to dictate his conditions. ”

The same inverse effect is obtained by attempts at blackmail when a person is dismissed for a case, and he demands that they part by agreement of the parties and give him a good recommendation, threatening otherwise to talk about any violations in the company “where should be”. Checking the reality of the written recommendation is now not difficult.


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