“Clear your references”




Dear Andrea:

I have had several jobs and suspect I am getting a bad recommendation by one of my references. I believe I am on good terms with my former employer; I stop by to say hello from time to time and I gave two weeks notice. I am working for his competitor part time and suspect that could cause some bad feelings on his part. Is there a way I can have someone check my references?
–Suspicious in Ohio

Dear Suspicious:

To set the record straight, your references should be people whom you have specifically asked, “Would you be a reference for me?” They may have worked with you or know you through another association–but they know you well enough to speak highly of your professionalism, reputation, work ethic, achievements and character. They have agreed to give you such a recommendation. If you have made this request and they agreed, there shouldn’t be any question as to what your references are saying.
I suspect you’re assuming your former employer is acting as such a reference. Have you talked to him about this? It doesn’t sound like it. If you’re assuming prospective employers are calling him, you need to clarify this with him. Ask him what he will be saying. If you’re on such good terms with him, why do you need someone else to check with him? Have a conversation. But don’t be surprised about his discomfort over you working for his competitor. Can you blame him? Sounds to me as if you need to clear the air on a few issues.

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