by Terra L. Dourlain,
President of Faith, Winter & Grace, Inc.
A poor or even luke warm
reference can sometimes cost you the job you want. If you are
worried about what a former boss will say to a prospective
employer, consider using a reference checking service as seen in
the Wall Street Journal's National Business Employment Weekly. The
industry's leading and oldest reference checking firm, Allison &
Taylor, Inc. (www.myreferences.com),
provides reference checks for job seekers that range from $59 for
basic to $99 for executive level reports. In business for 15
years, Allison & Taylor will confidentially contact your
references, inquiring about performance - managerial skills,
judgment, integrity, productivity, technical skills - as well as
employment dates, job description and reason for departure. Within
an average of ten days, you will have a complete dossier on your
reference, including how long it took for a response, general tone
and verbatim quotes. Allison & Taylor, Inc. can be reached at
Career Sabotage: The Influence of a Past
The word was out on Jim Walters. Someone was
telling prospective employers that they shouldn't hire him. It
cost him at least twelve top job offers, kept him unemployed for
over a year, and more than $100,000 of his retirement fund.
Walters, not his real name, has since found
work, but two years later he is still angry at his former boss for
nearly ruining his life. Walters was able to stop his boss from
spreading more lies, but he wonders how many other job seekers are
not so fortunate.
"For months I suspected that my former boss
was saying something about me. The problem was I didn't know what
he was saying or how to prove it." said Walters, a former General
Manager for a Manufacturing Company.
Job seekers can now turn the tables on their
former bosses. Many are starting to check up on former bosses,
colleagues and even trusted friends, by using professional
reference checking firms. Let's face it. Companies have been
checking out potential employees' backgrounds for years.
"When you get right down to it, you just don't
know for sure, who you can trust. There is simply too much at
stake - your job, your income, your family's well being - to
chance it that your references are positive and accurate." said
Terra Dourlain, Managing Director of Allison & Taylor, Inc., a
professional reference checking firm.
Allison & Taylor, Inc. has been checking
reference since 1984 for a variety of clients from nurses and
teachers to senior managers and even presidents of companies.
Allison & Taylor's clients also include attorneys, professional
recruiters and companies who hire them to check out potential
Dourlain stated that about half of the
references they investigate are mediocre to down right negative -
often to the surprise of the client. "People they believe are
giving them a good reference are not." she said, "And just as many
who have assumed they are getting a bad reference are not."
Allison & Taylor, Inc. is up front with the
people they call to check a reference. "When we call a reference
we simply state they we are calling to do an employment
verification and reference check on (name of client). Typically
the reference assumes we are considering hiring that individual or
we have been hired to check them out for a company that is
considering hiring them. No matter what, we never disclosed who
has actually hired us to perform the reference check. This allows
our client complete confidentiality and the ability to use our
information in court should the need arise." stated Dourlain.
It is not uncommon for references to pass out
inaccurate information. Dates and title of employment, the reason
for the separation and salary information are typically mistaken
and unfortunately it is assumed by potential employers that the
job seeker is lying.
Sometimes information is subtle. For instance,
if a reference doesn't return two or three calls, that raises a
red flag. Innuendoes such as, "Are you sure he listed me as a
reference?" or "Well, according to our agreement I can only
confirm that she worked here." offer additional clues that things
are just not right.
Dourlain has also noticed that the higher the
position, the more freely references divulge damaging information.
"Clients often assume that company policies to only confirm
limited information are strictly followed. I usually ask them if
they are in a hurry and don't see a police officer if they tend to
push the speed limit. References are no different. If someone
really liked you and wants to help you land another job, or if
they had a problem with you and don't want to see you working,
they can and will break company policy."
In a slight turn of events, Dourlain stated
that over the last few years, her clients have used positive
references to assist them in their court cases. "In the case of
wrongful termination, a positive reference can be used as support
of litigation. In fact, our clients have been awarded settlements
in excess of $1 million."
The purpose of checking your references should
not be to file a lawsuit. However, a candidate does need to know
the quality of their references and whether former employers are
passing on personal opinions, conjecture, rumors or accurate legal
About the author:
Terra L. Dourlain is a Career Transition Specialist and
Executive Career Coach with an extensive background in employee
training and development. As President of Faith, Winter & Grace,
Inc. she has assisted hundreds of senior level candidates through
successful transitions. Currently, Terra is the Managing Director
(an Allison & Taylor Company), the nation's oldest professional
employment verification and reference checking firm. Please visit
their site at
or call (800) 422-3905 to learn more about this valuable service.