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How to Deal with Negative Job Reference: 18 Best Tips


Reference plays a vital role in hiring process. The previous employers are not only required to confirm the dates and titles but also the character and quality of work you had done in your previous employment office. That is why sometimes employment reference checks are problematic-sometimes lukewarm effects and sometimes downright negative effects also. These feedbacks ensures that the employee remains unemployed for a certain period of time without knowing that he was down listed due to negative references. He/she will not even have an idea that reason for rejection is due to existence of negative work reference. No law can prevent employers from giving a bad reference or a good reference. But it is believed that whatever information a former employer provides is true to his knowledge. Sometimes, the employers don’t give you a reference at all, and reference checkers interpret that as a bad reference. Giving references is a job which anyone will want to slide off from because they are not comfortable giving a reference about the person on their risk and respect. Here are some ways to deal with people who give a bad reference about you:

deal with negative job referenceTips to Deal with Negative Job Reference:

1. Exclude references that don’t go well with you:

If you are not well settled with your employer, then choose a manager from a different department or chose one of your clients with whom you had good relations. Explore people who think well about you. Why should you yourself go ahead and approach people whom you know will never speak good about you at the back of you. People with dirty minds can always try to pull you down towards the ladder of success.

2. Chose references who know your areas of strength:

Give away names of supervisors who had good talks with you. Contact each person in your list and confirm through them whether they will become a good reference for you. Avoid references that you think might give dangerous information. Normally, people don’t want to be sued in case of any unforeseen circumstances so they prefer staying silent in regard to references, and the employers count that act also as a bad reference. Approach people who give quality report and truthful levels.

3. Inform the interviewer about the type of reference he will get:

Be frank and tell the hiring person that the reference may not quote good terms because the mutual understanding didn’t go well and he was biased against you. But tell these things only if asked for. And don’t give any reasons or details for the following situations. It is better to make the interviewer prepared before hand about the reference he is going to approach. Atleast, he will feel that you are honest and truthful to your approach. He will be glad to realize that if you are in the bad books because of some negligence from your side, you are ready to accept that fact.

4. Object against bad references:

If you feel that the former employer reference has been any adverse remarks against you, tell your prospective employer that you don’t agree with the assessment the employer has made for you. Be professional and positive in your approach and request the hirer to take another reference on which you believe will display your positive attributes more extravagantly. Getting a job is your main criteria. If a bad reference is demotivating, you should not fall in his trap. Change your paths and move ahead.

5. Approach the HR of the former organization:

If you find your HOD giving adverse comments against you, approach your HR and ask for evidences against the statements given by your boss. Inform the HR that the boss is giving false statements when asked for reference for job. Ask for written evidences against his remarks. No one in the organization has the rights to speak ill and illegal against existing or resigned employees in front of third parties. This constitutes an act of inhumanity which shall be considered by the organization in a serious manner.

6. Take an attempt to sue the bad reference maker:

If you are confident in your approach and you have no records which defame your character, you can attempt to sue people who are making degradable comments against your character so that no other company shall hire you. If you are sure about yourself, you can take this step if you feel the patience level is above your limits. Accepting that you are bad is equal to agreeing that you are bad. If the matter has become critical, start objecting and get the case solved on grounds of honesty.

7. Read your policies well:

In some companies, they have an agreement to disclose only your date of joining and designation. Enquire with them and if they have given any negative remarks against your character, you can offer a cease and desist letter against the organization stating that the company policies are being violated and private information is being disclosed with the hope that your past employer will have to stop giving negative remarks. These policies are very helpful at the time of leaving the company as they are framed for the benefit of both the organization and the employee.

8. Get a reference in writing:

Ask your potential employer to get references in writing. By their replies you will understand the percentage of focus they will impart on references. Giving bad references in writing is one thing all the people avoid and there you are safe. References in writing can be used will all the prospective employers you have applied and preparing to apply in future. Written references give a solid proof of your character in the organization. It is always advised to obtain a character certificate from your former organization in this connection.

9. Use LinkedIn as reference:

Incorporate your references in LinkedIn. Write recommendations for people and ask them to write for you too. This reciprocation will create a positive impact on the hirer. More and more people will approach you because of positive references. Online and e-referencing has become common and reliable as on today. Given an option, utilize as much benefits of the social sites for building up a good career. These sites have been build up only to develop contacts and references so use it fully and intelligently.

10. Refer your friends posted well in good companies:

It is not necessary that you have to give reference of your former employee only. You can always refer friends who are well posted and who are in good terms with you. Include names of people whom you are sure will give a good word to your career goals. It is obvious that you shall have friends and relative posted at higher designations in MNCs who know you professionally as well as personally. This can be an added advantage in getting your job and the problem of references can be solved.

11. Cultivate positive relations with managers and superiors:

The best way to avoid negative remarks is to cultivate positive and friendly relations with the managers and superiors. Why give them a chance to think about you as a bad employee. Be polite and friendly in your behavior and make good relations with all in your office. Don’t give others a chance to speak badly against you. Making friendly relations will keep you confident that no one can speak ill against you.

12. Verify your references:

Before writing their names in the company application forms, verify and ask them about what they think of you and whether you can include their names in the reference list. Whether they will support and give truthful remarks for you. Approach your former HR to encourage the people to give positive remarks for you. Once you are confirmed that nothing shall go wrong, move ahead to give the contact details and feel free to share the company details to the referee as well.

13. Fear from the most recent job:

Mostly, the potential employers ask for references from the most recent employers. And the most reliable reference is what they extract from the most recent job. The prospective employer wants to know the reason why you left the job most recently. We think it is fine when things don’t work out with our last job but we don’t think what will happen if a prospective employer calls for references and he comes back with negative comments.

14. Show your innate qualities:

We have spend so much time and effort for preparing for job interviews, researching companies, perfecting resumes and practicing speeches but we don’t devote time for preparing references. Give a perfect shot at the interview. Be polite and well behaved in the interview and so confident and rightly postured that by seeing your attributes, the HR may not require to approach any references from your side.

15. Wrong or unreachable contact details:

Sometimes it happens that the phone number or the email address you provide in connection with the reference does not exist anymore or is not reachable. Sometimes, people are for long leaves or vacations at the time the HRs approach them. This lack of information bridges a gap and it might create a bad impression to the HR that you might not want to disclose any information and so you gave wrong contact details. It is better to first approach them and check of their availability and then provide their contact details.

16. Rave views of the referee:

When you were associated with your former employer, you thought he feels you are a star but when your prospective employer approaches him, he is not so well versed with ways to give good references about you even if he doesn’t feel negative about you. In such cases, you need to train your professional references first and tell them what they should speak in front of your potential employer so that you are taken as a positive character and your former employer was impressed and inspired by your work.

17. Unwanted lines because references were not prepared:

References say that they were not prepared for the surprise calls asking references of the candidate. In such cases, where the organization is big, some bosses may not even remember your names and personal information. So, it is always better to ask them if they are comfortable in serving references for you, so that they remember you and know well in advance that calls may come and they can prepare themselves accordingly. The preparation will leave a positive impact on the prospective HR.

18. Don’t give reference of top level management:

Prospective HRs don’t want huge and highly well settled in society references. Rather, they are interested in superiors under whom you have worked directly. They want to talk to managers with whom you have spent quality time when you were there in the organization. Providing references of top level management may reflect your image in a different form as perceived by the HR.

It is a true and sour fact that 85% of the jobs are filled through contacts and personal references and any outstanding record might not lead you there despite of your years of experience. It is very necessary to have an excellent reference-be it from your internship or volunteer posts. These work references are real advantages rather than using post qualification job references. It is better to plan and study the contact details you are going to provide to the prospective HRs to save your job.



  1. I think that recruiters have too many expectations these days, considering that they are really asking to verify information, which might be personal and confidential.

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