The Facts About Bad References

31st July 2014
Writing_Reference

When looking for a new job having positive references from previous employers is highly recommended if your new employer is to gain a favourable idea of your work ethic and performance. Some people mistakenly believe it’s against the law to provide a negative reference, however that is not strictly true. Here we discuss the facts about references and how – in our experience as an online recruitment agency - they really affect your future job prospects…

Requesting a Reference
Whereas some jobs do not rely too heavily on the presence of excellent references, some companies might find them an imperative part of the hiring process. When asking previous managers for a reference, it is important to secure a positive one by asking whether they are in a position to support your current job candidacy. If the reply is a yes, then candidates can feel safe in the knowledge they will be spoken about in constructive terms rather than the reference giver feeling obligated to provide a recommendation and giving one half-heartedly or negatively.

Always request a reference in writing; this gives you an idea of the tone of the recommendation and allows you to filter out the less positive ones. Using LinkedIn to post references in writing is another way to see what employers are saying about you before it reaches your prospective employer.

Bad References
If you are expecting a less than gleaming reference from some previous employers, there are ways of limiting the potential damage it could do to your job application. Getting as many positive recommendations as possible can negate your need to use the negative one, or in the case of non-written references, one bad amongst many positive ones makes the majority positive, which is a fact that should be taken into account by your new employer.

Many people believe that the law forbids previous employers from giving a negative reference, but this is not strictly true. The law states that references must be fair and truthful, therefore if you have received disciplinary action or any marks against your name during your previous employment, these can be mentioned within the reference as long as they are not considered misleading. Some employers fear reprisal after giving a reference as they are aware that not being 100% truthful can lead to legal action, so often they give the bare minimum of cut-and-dry details without going deeper into a candidate’s personality and character.

How to Ensure a Good Reference
There are ways to make sure your references are only positive; some people use reference checking services who contact previous managers under the guise of a company searching for candidates in order to get an idea of what is being said. If you discover a bad reference, it is advisable to start communication with your previous employer to see if a positive reference can be reached.

Maintaining healthy and happy relationships with management during your employment also helps glean a positive reference upon leaving. Leaving a job on good terms is another important aspect, regardless of any difficulties. Looking at the bigger picture, even if you have left with difficulty, is important to ensure you are spoken of positively after your employment ends.

Keeping positive relationships during employment is key to ensuring a good reference, however if you are unlucky enough to receive a bad one, there are methods of damage control to make sure you are not left disappointed – we hope the above helps.

If you want some more advice from our recruitment team, please contact us or alternatively, connect with us online via Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Jamie Mistlin find me on Google+.

"If you discover a bad reference, it is advisable to start communication with your previous employer to see if a positive reference can be reached. "