Tips to help you get hired: Beware a 'bad boss' when you're looking for a new job

As a member of the working public, most of us have had the experience of working for a "bad boss", says Jeff Shane of Allison & Taylor Reference Checking, an employment verification and reference checking firm based in Rochester, Mich.

Many people find that working for a bad boss eventually becomes intolerable and wind up leaving their job. But employees beware: The same characteristics that make someone a bad boss also tend to make them a bad former employer. "Bad bosses" frequently offer negative references to sabotage a former employee's efforts to find new work.

If you suspect your former employer is thwarting your attempts to gain new employment, your first step should be to conduct a reference check. If you do, in fact, confirm that they are providing unflattering information to potential employers, you have the following options:

1. You can try to keep them off a potential employer's "radar" by not offering up their name when filling out employment paperwork. Try providing an alternate contact at the company as your reference.

2. You can attempt to preempt a former employer's negative input by explaining your challenges with them in the interview process, framing the difficulties in your own words. (Be warned, this can be a tricky proposition. If you are not careful to finesse your comments, you may come off as a complainer to a new employer.)

3. You can have a "cease and desist" letter issued by an attorney. These letters are typically sent to the senior management, alerting them of the negative reference's identity and actions. In the interest of their company, management will generally counsel the reference not to provide further commentary on your employment. This technique has been proven very effective; in fact, Allison & Taylor finds that the success rate of such letters approaches 100 percent.

A negative reference will usually continue offering the same potentially damaging input about you to every prospective employer unless you take steps to stop it. Don't let a bad boss sabotage your job hunting efforts- take steps to ensure that a poor reference won't cost you future employment opportunities.

AllisonTaylor and its principals have been in the business of checking references for corporations and individuals since 1984. For further details on services and procedures please visit

Do what others fail to do!

(Marvin Walberg is a job-search coach based in Birmingham, Ala. For contact information, see Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service,

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