My Old Company Speaks Badly Of Me. What Should I Do?

Monica T

My Old Company Speaks Badly Of Me. What Should I Do?
  1. Q. My old company speaks badly of me when contacted by potential employers. What should I do?
  2. A. Take action immediately to lessen the chances their negativity could hurt your future employment. Here’s how:
  • If a former boss will speak well of you, supply the hiring company with his/her direct contact information.
  • If you had two bosses, one who speaks well of you and one who doesn’t, give the hiring company the positive boss’s contact information (even if he/she was not your most recent direct supervisor).
  • Ask the hiring company to contact HR (who usually only confirms employment dates, salaries, and titles).
  • When possible, state that you’d prefer that the potential employer not contact your former company.

Additional steps:

  • Ask your former employer what they plan to say. People often think that they can’t say negative things; however, Alison Doyle of says, “There are no federal laws restricting what information an employer can disclose about former employees. If you were fired or terminated from employment, the company can say so. They can also give a reason.” However, she says, “Concern about lawsuits is why most employers only confirm dates of employment, your position, and salary.”
  • If company representatives intend to be negative, ask them to reconsider. Work with them to arrive at a statement that will not unnecessarily hurt your chances of future employment.
  • Ask that they put what they intend to say in writing so you can discuss it with your attorney (even if you don’t have one). This could dissuade them from being negative.
  • Have someone pose as a potential employer and call the company to see how they respond to questions about you. If they respond inappropriately, let them know your concerns or have your attorney contact them.
  • Develop a positive statement about your time with the company. If you were terminated, provide an explanation that will jibe with what the company will say. If possible and truthful, inform companies you were let go for other reasons (such as a downturn in business). Practice saying your statement until you can say it well.
  • If your perspective is markedly different than what the company will say, state both sides. For example, you could say, “I was terminated because I did not catch on to my duties as quickly as was optimum; however, I was hired to be an artist for which I was amply skilled, however, my position was reclassified as social work, for which I had no experience.”
  • Have someone ask you questions about your former company and critique how you respond. Encourage them to point out where you are rambling or negative. Or, record your statement and critique yourself.
  • Try out your statement in an interview. If it did not come off naturally or didn’t ring true, revise and practice your statement for future interviews.
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Ensure people aren’t sabotaging referral calls to your past companies … doing so can help you … Get a Job!

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