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Old 10-04-2018, 10:04 AM
 
62 posts, read 69,743 times
Reputation: 180

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My error in not having job references properly lined up ahead of time resulted in my not being offered a position I had long desired to have.

I am in my early forties and have been out of the workforce for a few years due to returning to graduate school full time in a healthcare related program and having two babies since that time, one of whom was diagnosed with and subsequently passed away following a terminal illness since that time. Despite often wanting to just give up with life altogether, I pushed myself and graduated from the program and was selected for an honor society.

I applied for a job for a reputable organization and felt I would fit in as well. I had an over-the-phone interview and was asked to come in for an interview. The interview lasted over two hours and included a tour of the facilities, a group panel interview, and an interview with the program director.

The director expressed strong interest in hiring me and said that she would be in contact with me following other interviews she had scheduled. She also asked me if I had a list of references ready for her. I had a list with me, but I had not yet contacted the individuals on the list. This was my terrible mistake.

Immediately following the interview, I attempted to contacted my references. Two of the references who were both supervisors I had worked directly under during my final term expressed pleasure in hearing from me and stated that they would be glad to provide references. The third person on my list, an employee of the university, who had supervised me in group work during my first year of grad school contacted me by email five days after I had tried to contact her, stating that "it had been quite a long time since I worked with" her and that she knows the environment of the organization very well and that it is not similar to the sort of treatment we provided the clients we worked with at the university clinic and that she does not think it is a good fit for me and for my skill strengths.

I was surprised by her response because I had received neither poor grades nor negative comments from this university employee while in the program, but I emailed her a polite response expressing my continued respect for her work and asked her to please disregard my request fro a reference. I heard no response back from her since that time.

I contacted a former work supervisor, asking her whether she would be willing to provide a reference. She said she would be happy to provide a positive reference. I emailed the director of the organization I had applied for with the contact information for the fourth reference. The director called me later that afternoon (on a Friday), saying that I was still "very much in consideration" for the position and that she would like me to come in on the following Monday afternoon to observe a couple of the employees in their work. I've also been told by others that it was likely I would have been offered the job that day.

When the Monday morning arrived, the director called me saying that the interview scheduled for that day was being cancelled due to concerning information received from a reference. I did not ask further questions, but thanked the director for her time and consideration.

This all happened about a week and a half ago. I know that the reference the director referred to was from the university employee. I have spoken with neither the director nor with the university employee since, but I am hurt by what happened as this was a job I truly wanted and believe I would performed well in.

I know I made the mistake by not speaking with each of my references prior to providing the information and I regret not doing so. I also know that the position is likely filled by this time. I know I just need to learn from my mistake and move on.

If in a similar position, would you contact either the director or university employee? If so, what would you say?

Thank you for your input.
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Old 10-04-2018, 11:05 AM
 
298 posts, read 126,596 times
Reputation: 344
Quote:
Originally Posted by tanner View Post
My error in not having job references properly lined up ahead of time resulted in my not being offered a position I had long desired to have.

I am in my early forties and have been out of the workforce for a few years due to returning to graduate school full time in a healthcare related program and having two babies since that time, one of whom was diagnosed with and subsequently passed away following a terminal illness since that time. Despite often wanting to just give up with life altogether, I pushed myself and graduated from the program and was selected for an honor society.

I applied for a job for a reputable organization and felt I would fit in as well. I had an over-the-phone interview and was asked to come in for an interview. The interview lasted over two hours and included a tour of the facilities, a group panel interview, and an interview with the program director.

The director expressed strong interest in hiring me and said that she would be in contact with me following other interviews she had scheduled. She also asked me if I had a list of references ready for her. I had a list with me, but I had not yet contacted the individuals on the list. This was my terrible mistake.

Immediately following the interview, I attempted to contacted my references. Two of the references who were both supervisors I had worked directly under during my final term expressed pleasure in hearing from me and stated that they would be glad to provide references. The third person on my list, an employee of the university, who had supervised me in group work during my first year of grad school contacted me by email five days after I had tried to contact her, stating that "it had been quite a long time since I worked with" her and that she knows the environment of the organization very well and that it is not similar to the sort of treatment we provided the clients we worked with at the university clinic and that she does not think it is a good fit for me and for my skill strengths.

I was surprised by her response because I had received neither poor grades nor negative comments from this university employee while in the program, but I emailed her a polite response expressing my continued respect for her work and asked her to please disregard my request fro a reference. I heard no response back from her since that time.

I contacted a former work supervisor, asking her whether she would be willing to provide a reference. She said she would be happy to provide a positive reference. I emailed the director of the organization I had applied for with the contact information for the fourth reference. The director called me later that afternoon (on a Friday), saying that I was still "very much in consideration" for the position and that she would like me to come in on the following Monday afternoon to observe a couple of the employees in their work. I've also been told by others that it was likely I would have been offered the job that day.

When the Monday morning arrived, the director called me saying that the interview scheduled for that day was being cancelled due to concerning information received from a reference. I did not ask further questions, but thanked the director for her time and consideration.

This all happened about a week and a half ago. I know that the reference the director referred to was from the university employee. I have spoken with neither the director nor with the university employee since, but I am hurt by what happened as this was a job I truly wanted and believe I would performed well in.

I know I made the mistake by not speaking with each of my references prior to providing the information and I regret not doing so. I also know that the position is likely filled by this time. I know I just need to learn from my mistake and move on.

If in a similar position, would you contact either the director or university employee? If so, what would you say?

Thank you for your input.
That really stinks I'm sorry. I've never been asked to provide references on-the-spot like that. If anything it's one of those situations you learn from. As far as the university employee -- if it was me, I'd scratch them list and never talk to them again. Geez! You could perhaps contact the director and try to explain what happened and that you and this university employee were on different pages but you didn't realize until now and then provide a new reference, but it might be difficult to change the outcome at this point. You'll be fine though, it sounds like you're plenty employable. Unemployment is low right now and there's a labor shortage. So if you have job skills and you can present yourself well, I think chances are you'll find something else.
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Old 10-04-2018, 12:29 PM
 
6,876 posts, read 7,276,074 times
Reputation: 9785
So, so sorry that happened to you.

Some people are just a$$ holes. Unfortunately you ran into one.
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Old 10-04-2018, 12:36 PM
 
Location: Worcester MA
1,810 posts, read 313,614 times
Reputation: 1849
Did you actually get along with this person? I'm surprised someone would do this. If I didn't want to give a reference, I just wouldn't respond to the prospective employer's call or email, not sabotage. This university employee sounds evil.
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Old 10-04-2018, 01:21 PM
 
1,547 posts, read 401,033 times
Reputation: 2896
Quote:
Originally Posted by Taffee72 View Post
Did you actually get along with this person? I'm surprised someone would do this. If I didn't want to give a reference, I just wouldn't respond to the prospective employer's call or email, not sabotage. This university employee sounds evil.
There can be some nasty and vindictive people out there so you have to be very careful to vet your references. You need to also ask them what literally are they going to say about you. Because even with the best of intentions, some people don't know how to give a great reference. In those cases, you need to coach them on it. Also, keep in contact with them and let them know what job you applied for and what you want them to highlight in their conversations about you.

The person who gave you a bad reference, is poison and I'd not communicate with them again and never use them as a reference or list them as a previous supervisor. They have already showed they are a terrible person. I see no point in you contacting them to try to win them over, because someone like that has a personality disorder. If someone has not worked with you in a while and not talked with you, you could have gotten an MBA and done a bunch of others things which would make you highly qualified for the job. So in summary, I've very sorry it worked out this way, but you need to live in learn.

A friend of mine who was supervising a group at a college told me he interviewed this woman for a position. She gave three references that were all former supervisors. He contacted all of them. Two of them gave very good references, and the third was the complete opposite. He had already interviewed her with the team and one-on-one and liked her for the position. So he decided to ignore the bad reference because it was out of place. Hired her and she turned out to be a great employee for many years. The point is, if this company and management is so great, they should have ignored the bad reference even though the others were fine.

Last edited by rummage; 10-04-2018 at 01:30 PM..
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Old 10-04-2018, 01:23 PM
 
17,258 posts, read 10,188,976 times
Reputation: 28783
Unfortunate situation.

But before making automatic assumptions, we need to be clear headed about this.

The OP mentions that neither the director nor the one university employee (reference) were contacted. So at this point we do not even know for sure if this reference was contacted and gave a negative referral. Employers can give all kinds of reasons an applicant was denied a job, but they are not always truthful. As an example, I was rejected recently for a job and the reason they gave me was that my experience level was too high for the position listed, which was B.S. since they could have told me from the beginning after I applied. The OP could have been rejected for something else and the reference was used as a convenient excuse.

But let's say the former university employee was indeed contacted, and mentioned the same things the OP mentioned (that the treatment offered at the clinic was different from that offered at the prospective employer, and that the OP's skills and strengths weren't suited for the job opening). If so, unfortunately, it is not against the law for a former employer to give a negative opinion on a former employee.

If the university supervisor made false allegations about the OP, that the OP falsified records, was constantly late to work, etc., then yes, there would potentially be grounds for legal action. But again, if the supervisor simply gave an opinion that the OP would not be a fit due to a different background and lacking the skill sets for that new job, then that is perfectly legal.

But again, we do not know anything here, whether the director talked to the university supervisor, or if the supervisor gave a negative opinion. And probably never will find out the real reason why the OP was rejected.

Anyways, I understand the OP's pain and frustration, but the best thing is to move on. The big lesson learned here is to contact your references before handing them over to a potential employer.
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Old 10-04-2018, 01:37 PM
 
298 posts, read 126,596 times
Reputation: 344
Quote:
Originally Posted by Taffee72 View Post
Did you actually get along with this person? I'm surprised someone would do this. If I didn't want to give a reference, I just wouldn't respond to the prospective employer's call or email, not sabotage. This university employee sounds evil.
I agree. If I was contacted by a former employee who I disliked, I'd just not respond or decline. At the end of the day, even if the person was a poor fit for your team, why would you not want them to succeed? What is the value to providing a bad reference? (Unless you feel there is truly something the prospective employer should know about the candidate). It goes to show this person is horrible. However the OP can have the last laugh once they find another position which is even a better fit.
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Old 10-04-2018, 03:47 PM
 
Location: on the wind
7,101 posts, read 2,916,317 times
Reputation: 24038
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburban_Guy View Post
Unfortunate situation.

But before making automatic assumptions, we need to be clear headed about this.

The OP mentions that neither the director nor the one university employee (reference) were contacted. So at this point we do not even know for sure if this reference was contacted and gave a negative referral.


Employers can give all kinds of reasons an applicant was denied a job, but they are not always truthful. The OP could have been rejected for something else and the reference was used as a convenient excuse.


But let's say the former university employee was indeed contacted, and mentioned the same things the OP mentioned (that the treatment offered at the clinic was different from that offered at the prospective employer, and that the OP's skills and strengths weren't suited for the job opening). If so, unfortunately, it is not against the law for a former employer to give a negative opinion on a former employee.

If the university supervisor made false allegations about the OP, that the OP falsified records, was constantly late to work, etc., then yes, there would potentially be grounds for legal action. But again, if the supervisor simply gave an opinion that the OP would not be a fit due to a different background and lacking the skill sets for that new job, then that is perfectly legal.

But again, we do not know anything here, whether the director talked to the university supervisor, or if the supervisor gave a negative opinion. And probably never will find out the real reason why the OP was rejected.

Anyways, I understand the OP's pain and frustration, but the best thing is to move on. The big lesson learned here is to contact your references before handing them over to a potential employer.
This^^^^. OP you don't really know what this reference said or didn't say. You don't know who the "negative" comment originated from. If this college reference truthfully felt you weren't suited for that situation she just gave her opinion. It may not have been malicious or to deliberately hurt your chances, just to inform. In fact, she may have tried to save you from a job that would have made you miserable. Kind of wonder if that's why the reference sent you that email about her comments. We just don't know anything. Sure unexpected comments sting, but what can you do except move on?
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Old 10-04-2018, 03:51 PM
Status: "Disagreeing is not the same thing as trolling." (set 8 days ago)
 
Location: Texas
9,480 posts, read 3,645,114 times
Reputation: 19492
Of course I'm sure you know now, don't ever give out references without talking to those references first, to ensure they will say something positive.

In my experience, people who give negative references usually have an axe to grind or a grudge.
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Old 10-04-2018, 05:01 PM
 
17,258 posts, read 10,188,976 times
Reputation: 28783
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parnassia View Post
This^^^^. OP you don't really know what this reference said or didn't say. You don't know who the "negative" comment originated from. If this college reference truthfully felt you weren't suited for that situation she just gave her opinion. It may not have been malicious or to deliberately hurt your chances, just to inform. In fact, she may have tried to save you from a job that would have made you miserable. Kind of wonder if that's why the reference sent you that email about her comments. We just don't know anything. Sure unexpected comments sting, but what can you do except move on?
All good points.

The main thing I hope the OP gets from our opinions, is that the OP cannot definitively say that the former university supervisor was the one responsible for a bad reference. Sure, an educated guess says it is likely, but again, no one knows. Even more, like I mentioned, the OP cannot definitively say that a bad reference was given at all, or that a bad reference was the real reason why the Monday schedule was canceled. As I read it, it took five days for the supervisor to reach back to the OP with her opinion.

As the OP won't contact either the director or the supervisor, the truth will never be known. Employees can give all kinds of untruthful but safe reasons why they decide not to hire someone.

But to go along with what you said about an unfavorable opinion not being necessarily malicious, this I also agree with.

In general, and not directed at the OP, If I was contacted out of the blue by an employer for a reference (for someone who didn't notify me), and I honestly felt this person's work ethic and skill set were not a fit for the company, I would be honest without badmouthing the reference. After all it's my word and reputation on the line. I'm not going to blindly endorse someone who I think is not going to be a good fit for a company, based on how that person performed previously.

I'm not saying all this to be mean spirited towards the OP, but I'm trying to be open minded and see it from different perspectives. But ultimately nothing can be done, and the best thing to do is to use that anger and energy towards other job opportunities.
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