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Negative References

How to Handle Negative Employment References

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Negative References Copyright Ryan Fox
A negative reference is one in which a previous employer depicts you as a less-than-ideal candidate. While employers legally cannot provide misleading or false information, they are not required to give positive references. Here's more information on what employers can disclose about you.

Check Your References

Unfortunately, a negative reference can greatly hurt your chances of getting a job. Therefore, before you give an employer a list of references, contact each reference. You will most likely need to list your manager or another contact at the company, but you can give the employer additional references that you know will speak highly of you.

First, ask the person if they are comfortable providing you with a positive reference. If they are uncomfortable, do not put them down as a reference; perhaps list a colleague with whom you worked closely.

If they simply have not worked with you for awhile, you can provide them with your resume or a list of your accomplishments. Ask them to look the list over to refresh their memories about your skills.

Reference Checking Services

When you are concerned about what previous employers are going to say about you, an option for finding out what they will disclose is to use a reference checking service that will check your employment references for you, for a fee.

If you are worried about getting a negative reference, it may be worth considering using a reference checking service so you know what you're dealing with upfront. The last thing you need when you're a contender for a job is to be surprised by an unexpected negative reference.

Professional References
You may be able to use other professional references, like colleagues, clients and vendors to help mitigate the impact of a negative reference from an employer. Again, check in advance to be sure your reference giver is willing to give you a positive endorsement. Add these references to the list of references you give to the employer.

How to Ask for a Reference
Information on how to ask for a reference for employment, including the best way to ask someone to be a reference for you, how to make sure the references you get are good, plus sample reference request letters and email messages asking for a reference.

Sample Reference Request Letters and Email Messages

Not sure how to ask or what to say when requesting references? Review these letters and email messages asking someone to give you a reference.

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