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July 16, 2013
Can My Former Employer Impact My Job Chances?
 
There are many factors that can affect your chances of landing a job, and one of them is references from your previous employers.
 
When your interviewer is evaluating your suitability for a job, he or she may decide to contact your former employers to find out more about you. If you are wondering if your former bosses can hurt your chances of getting a job, the truth is, they can.
 
What Happens During a Reference Check?
A reference check can be conducted over the phone or via email. It can last anywhere from a few moments to half an hour or so, depending on how much information your previous employer wishes to provide.
 
Under normal circumstances, a past employer is usually unwilling to provide too much information. However, if the conversation becomes more casual, many things can be discussed.
 
Here is a list of questions that are commonly asked during a reference check:
  • What is your working relationship with the candidate?
  • What were the duties of the candidate when he or she was employed by your company?
  • How will you rate the candidate's management and technical abilities?
  • How was the candidate's relationship with his or her co-workers?
  • How was the candidate's relationship with upper management?
  • How did the candidate respond to criticism?
  • What are the candidate's strengths and weaknesses?
  • Does the candidate have any bad habits?
  • Did the candidate leave your company voluntarily or was he or she terminated?
  • Will you employ this candidate again if you have a suitable vacancy?
  • On a scale of one to 10, how will you rate the candidate's performance when he or she was working for your company?
How Can Your Former Employer Sabotage Your Job Chances?
 
If you left a former employer on bad terms, there is a higher chance that he or she will give a negative reference.
 
Your interviewer has to rely on information from your former boss to make an informed decision, and he or she will be more wary of hiring you upon hearing negative comments about you. Your past employer does not have to talk negatively about you to ruin your chances of getting a job.
 
Even a slight hint, such as speaking in a non-enthusiastic tone, can make your interviewer think twice about hiring you. Many job-seekers have failed to land jobs they are well-qualified for just because of negative references from their previous employers.
 
What If Your Previous Employer Provides False Information?
 
Basically, your former employer is legally allowed to say anything about you during a reference check, as long as the information provided is true.
 
In the event that he or she provides false information that jeopardizes your chances of getting a job, you can file a lawsuit against him or her. However, it can be difficult for you to win such a lawsuit, because there are laws in some states that protect employers who provide references.
 
As much as your former employers can sabotage your job chances by giving negative references, they can also help you land a job by saying good things about you.
 
As such, you should try to establish and maintain a good relationship with all your employers. 

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John McMalcolm is a freelance writer who writes on a wide range of subjects, from employment tips to biographies of famous entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson, Mark Cuban and Steve Wynn. His articles can be found on a number of different business websites.
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