Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Checking on the reference checking process

Jeanine “JT” Tanner O’Donnell is a career coach and the founder of the leading career site www.workitdaily.com. Dale Dauten is founder of The Innovators’ Lab and author of a novel about HR, “The Weary Optimist.”

Dear JT & Dale: Today I started the first official day of my job search! While filling out applications, I found myself listing the HR offices for my previous employers. I did this because several of my former supervisors are no longer employed at my old companies. So, I was terminated from my most recent job. While I didn’t have any problem with my former supervisor, I’d feel more comfortable with a trained HR representative speaking to any potential employer. Will this reflect poorly on me when it comes time for employers to call previous employers? — Gus

JT: It’s common to give HR as the reference. However, if they ask why you didn’t list former managers, you can tell them you were told to have reference checks go through HR. Should they then insist on talking with your former boss, I would say, “I can give you his info, but I’m not sure how much he will say based on their policies. So, I hope you’ll contact HR, too.” This will prepare them in the event that what he says isn’t on point.

DALE: There are plenty of things to worry about when searching for a job, especially when you’re out of work. Ideally, worrying about what your references say about you shouldn’t be one of those worries. That’s why we have often suggested that a job candidate have a sympathetic friend or colleague call and make inquiries; that way, you know what’s being said and can come up with an appropriate strategy. However, not everyone has such a person to call upon. That’s why I was pleased to hear from Allison & Taylor, a company that offers a service to check references for you and has people skilled at getting information on you even from companies that say they only verify employment and don’t give references. The result is that Jeff Shane, president of Allison & Taylor, told us: “Approximately 57% of all reference checks we conduct identify some level of negativity from former employers. Typically, any negativity will disqualify a candidate from further consideration.” In addition to details on their reference checks, they also have some helpful articles (and a discount offer) on the blog section of their website, allisontaylor.com.

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Dear JT & Dale: I am currently in the middle of a career experience (that is, an internship). Meanwhile, I also have started the job interview process with another company. My internship doesn’t end for another month, and the company I am interviewing with is interested in expediting the hiring process. Questions: Do I give the internship people any indication that I am interviewing with another company? Should I try to work with the new company to start when my internship is over? It’s unlikely that this internship will turn into a permanent role, but I really like the team and don’t want to burn bridges. — Ciara

DALE: A “career experience,” eh? Sounds like a company trying to weasel out of paying interns a decent wage or any wage at all. I’m glad you have another opportunity.

JT: Still, we’re really glad you are asking these questions. Your reputation as an employee carries with you. Learning how to navigate this correctly is key! First, do not tell your current employer you are interviewing, as there’s no guarantee you will get the job. Wait for an offer. Things happen in hiring all the time that can delay the process and make this a moot point.

DALE: And there are plenty of managers who will just shut you down if they know you’re looking for another job, including some version of, “In that case, go ahead and leave today.”

JT: Second, should you get the offer, the first thing you say to them is that you have committed to the internship and want to make good on it for the sake of your professional reputation. They will understand; how you treat your current employer tells them how you will treat them one day. They will be OK with holding off on you starting. Trust me on that!

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Jeanine “JT” Tanner O’Donnell is a career coach and the founder of the leading career site www.workitdaily.com. Dale Dauten is founder of The Innovators’ Lab and author of “The Weary Optimist.” Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803. (c) 2022 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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