Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Recent Grad Can’t Get New Job… Bad Reference

Since I graduated a year ago, I've had two different jobs. The first one I left due to the strain of the hours and the second one I was dismissed from. Ever since I was dismissed from my last job, I've had tons of trouble trying to find a job. In the last 3 months, I've applied for tons of jobs and even gotten several interviews. However, I still haven't received a job offer. Today, I found out that a job I really had my hopes set on had passed me by. When I called, I was told that I had received a bad reference from my previous employer.

I don't know what to do anymore!! I'm totally crushed and no one is willing to give me a second chance. I know I'm a great employee who always performs above and beyond expectations and I have several great references but because I've been terminated from a job and they give me a bad reference, no one will take me on!! I fear I'll be stuck in a dead-end low-paying job for the rest of my life!!
-- Totally crushed

by Honey Smith, Professional Life Coach

Dear Totally Crushed,
You wrote that "No one" is willing to give you a "second chance" at a job. You also wrote that you "graduated a year ago." These hard knocks early in the game might make you feel like this is how it will be for the rest of your life.

Rest easy. It doesn't have to be that way at all.

You can turn these disappointments to your advantage. To do so, it's vital that you look honestly at what's happened to you. Start by considering these questions:

o Why was I dismissed? What do the circumstances around my dismissal tell me about myself, the particular job or boss and the working world in general?

o What would make a prospective employer weigh one bad experience against all the positive references I provide?

o Do I need to mention the job I was dismissed from on my resume or in interviews? If so, how will it serve me to do so, and what will it take to present it from my own perspective?

o How are my interviewing skills? You wrote that one interviewer claimed your bad reference was the reason you didn't get the job, but what about the others? Did you ask the other interviewers why you were not hired? If so, did you see a pattern emerge of your strengths and weaknesses? If those interviewers weren't forthcoming, who might you ask for some honest feedback on your interviewing skills? Could you practice improving those skills?

Lastly, you may want to consider if you're targeting the jobs that are the best fit for you.

Honey Smith, Ed.M. is a Professional Life Coach who helps job seekers fast forward their careers, master life transitions and fulfill their potential.

Susan Ireland’s Two Cents
Totally Crushed, you are at the beginning of your career, which in many ways is like being a freshman in college again. (They don’t call life the “school of hard rocks” for nothin’.) Don’t be discouraged. My guess is you just have some things to learn about yourself and the world of work.

I suggest you meet with a career coach –- maybe a counselor through your former college career center or a professional from the private sector -- who can explore what went “wrong” on your last job and see what skills you need to hone or maybe what mindset you can shift to help in your career future.

About job references: in Ask the Experts: Letter of Reference Unavailable Because Employer is Out of Business Carol Anderson has a way around the typical reference-from-the-former-employer:
If you are a recent college graduate or have kept in touch with your professors, you can also call on them for letters of recommendation and use one of them as a substitute for a recommendation from an employer.

Job Lounger, do you have a question? Email (joblounge@aol.com) it to me and I’ll post your question and an expert’s answer here in The Job Lounge.

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