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April 05, 2012


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I think the key is to avoid leaving bad impressions with your employers in the first time. If you burn those bridges, don't be surprised if they come back to haunt you. If someone insisted on calling up someone that I knew would be a bad reference, I'd just politely explain the situation to that person. Sometimes as hard as you work you just can't keep everyone happy.

I have had a weird experience when an hiring manager asked for a reference. I had worked for a well known US multinational for over 7 years and with a manager (who was Indian-American settled here for over 30 years) and when i gave that name to the new hiring manager, he specifically asked for an 'American Name', even after i told him that the Manager was heading the whole team for as long as i worked there. It totally put me off from that company.

I would add that it is also important to think about what you say in your exit interview when you leave a company. Some people burn bridges in that moment by "telling off" their boss or HR director or talking about all the things you thought were bad or would like to see changed. But an exit interview can be a good opportunity to sincerely thank your employer for the opportunity to work there and a time to reflect on what you learned and contributed. I think a positive experience in the exit interview will help you in any future dealings with the old company.

It's definitely important to always have good relationships with former coworkers. One bad reference can be a death sentence when trying to get a job - and you don't want to be in that situation. That said, if you do have a bad reference, I'd try to find any way around giving that reference out.

I was fired from my job after 13.5 years on the job. A vice-president kept all the good I did in front of the board, but the president spent 8 years trying to get me out. I didn't have a college degree & he wanted one for the job. (Why he hired me in the first place, I don't know - maybe because of 5 years of experience in the work.) When looking for work, I did list my last employer but said it might not be great. However, when I got my new job, they told me the president had praised me to the skies. Wow!!! Boy, was I surprised.

If there is no other way you have to take them out. It you or them. It works on TV.

Yes, OF COURSE, people get forced into giving out references they think will be bad. There are entire industries which give you no choice in your professional references -- public schools, for instance. Most (or all?) school districts won't even consider your application without a reference from your current or last principal or assistant principal. If that person is vindictive about something (for example not relinquishing your job sooner so a friend of his could move in) or if he/she wants to keep you in your current underemployed position, all she or he has to do is give out negative references which will never even be shared with you. That's why we need a transparency law for professional references like some countries have. Welcome to my world!

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