Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Does One Bad Reference Spoil the Lot?

I am in a catch-22 situation.

In 2005 December the company I was working for went into bankruptcy and so I took up a job with a high street super store as an assistant manager. The work culture was a complete shock to me and also the rude behavour of my area manager. This included no staff support and no HR support. To a fact, out of eight people who joined the company all left in the first three months due to the appalling circumstances. At that point I tendered my resignation and moved on thinking of it as a bad three-month dream.

Later I changed my course and started a career in the financial sector and after completing the courses, I started working as a mortgage adviser. Recently, I got a job with a major UK bank. But to my horror my old company (ex-area manager) gave me a very negative reference, resulting in my being in a soup. I have contacted the company and HR says the concerned manager has left the company and that HR has not given any reference good or bad for my tenure.

I do not know how to fix it. Out of the three references I had given my new employer, two have come back as excellent, saying I am a very good candidate. Please guide me as to what to do and how to sort it out.
--- Abhijeet, U.K.

by Roberta Rosen, Career Coach

Your bad three-month dream need not turn into a nightmare. Many positive facts are on your side.

First, you are able to provide two excellent references. It seems the company still insists upon a third and the third one that you provided was from a manager who was very possibly the reason that 8 employees left the company.

The good news is that this difficult area manager has also left the company. These are facts that could be explained to your present HR department.

Perhaps you could provide another reference from a former employee or someone who knows your work. Then you would have three positive references to weigh in against the negative one, making it clear that the negative reference was not representative of the quality of work you will provide to your major UK bank.

Roberta Rosen has been the career coach on Susan Ireland's team since 2001. She works with job seekers at all levels in person or by phone and helps them with career change, interview preparation, salary negotiation and career advancement.

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