Finding bad references

techfiendtechfiend Member Posts: 1,481 ■■■■□□□□□□
I recently lost out on a position due to a last minute reference check. It was completely unexpected and I don't know who or what the issue is. I've only heard good things from third parties about my references. I don't want to wrongfully accuse someone but I'm not sure how to proceed with eliminating the bad reference. Any advice?
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Comments

  • cyberguyprcyberguypr Senior Member Mod Posts: 6,872 Mod
    Hmm... did you reach out to your references beforehand to make sure they were onboard with vouching for you? I have to ask because I've had like 6 individuals put me down as a reference without ever telling me. When recuiters reached out I told them I had no comment to provide.
  • techfiendtechfiend Member Posts: 1,481 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Yes, I reached out to them a few months ago when I first started looking for a position and they were onboard. The way I see it someone was having a bad day, was asked a question they hadn't been asked before and responded badly or wanted to backstab me. When I'm reached out to as a reference I give nothing but praise, I always look at the good in people and want people to succeed. No one is perfect, you can always find bad things to say about a person you worked with.
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  • rj1790rj1790 Member Posts: 110 ■■■□□□□□□□
    That's very unfortunate. I would reach out to every reference that you listed and ask them if they have got contacted. Keep in mind that some employers will come up with every excuse in the book to make you look bad and make them the innocent parties.
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  • LonerVampLonerVamp OSCP, GCFA, GWAPT, CISSP, OSWP, CCNA Cyber Ops, Sec+, Linux+, AWS SAA, CCSK Member Posts: 461 ■■■■■■■□□□
    First thing is to ask the place you interviewed with what sort of red flag came up so that you can either address it or not be ambushed in the future. They may not answer you, but you should try.

    Second, it's possible a reference said something they thought was innocent, but someone read it the wrong way, or just happened to be some sort of deal-breaker or pet peeve for the hiring manager.

    Third, something's wrong if you don't trust your references and aren't sure which one may have badmouthed you, if that happened. That said, I might bristle if someone put me down as a reference when only asking in passing and I get a random call due to information I didn't pass on. I always try to let me references know, "Company ABC may be calling about positions XYZ with duties 123 that I'd really like to land, and could I use you as a reference on the off-chance they need one?"

    Fourth, if you haven't already told your references, you could always contact each one and ask if they got contacted. If yes, how'd it go, what sorts of questions did they ask and did they seem excited or positive about the feedback? Don't let on that you already know you've been brushed off, and keep the conversation positive and hopeful. Ask point blank if being a reference was ok and if they'd be open to doing it again. Anyone who hesitates should not be on your list.

    Lastly, it's also possible the employer just made something up to go with someone else. There should be far better ways to brush someone off, but not everyone is smart. That said, there are plenty of internal recruiters who have quotas to fill for how many contacts they make for open positions; even if they have no intention of coming back to you or going with you, they sometimes lead you on for their own job performance.

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  • techfiendtechfiend Member Posts: 1,481 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I probably will reach out to the references and ask them over email or text how it went. While I may learn more if I call them, I may also lash out at them if I find out even after I cool down over the weekend.
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  • paul78paul78 Member Posts: 3,016 ■■■■■■■■■■
    LonerVamp wrote: »
    First thing is to ask the place you interviewed with what sort of red flag came up so that you can either address it or not be ambushed in the future. They may not answer you, but you should try.
    ......
    Great advice - especially this part...

    @OP - FYI - the reference check could have been a back-channel discussion with a customer or some other mutual person. It may not have been one of your references at all. Personally, I would just move on and I would only limit using references of people that I really know and trust. There's not much you can do about back-channel reputation checks.

    Good luck - btw - if option 1 job is still available - you could check it out. I know that I was the only proponent of that job but I still think it sounded like the better opportunity.
  • EANxEANx Member Posts: 1,078 ■■■■■■■■□□
    techfiend wrote: »
    I probably will reach out to the references and ask them over email or text how it went. While I may learn more if I call them, I may also lash out at them if I find out even after I cool down over the weekend.

    Call, don't email. If you can't trust yourself to be professional in the face of an admission, you have other issues to work on. But if you do it, not that I recommend doing so, you should keep it light. "Hey, I've been applying for jobs, just wondering if anyone has reached out for a reference."
  • DatabaseHeadDatabaseHead CSM, ITIL x3, Teradata Assc, MS SQL Server, Project +, Server +, A+, N+, MS Project, CAPM, RMP Member Posts: 2,495 ■■■■■■■■■□
    The old snake in the grass. Deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.

    The first part is critical, find a recruiter who you TRUST. If you've been in IT for any significant period of time you should have someone. Get them to call your references for a faux job. You'll get that SOB real quick.
  • techfiendtechfiend Member Posts: 1,481 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Job 1 was filled, that was through a staffing agency where they had candidates lined up. It felt good to win but it also felt good to decline another potential disaster of a position and some things just weren't a great fit for me.

    I do have a recruiter who I trust and lunch with regularly. I might take that route instead of calling them myself. After talking to one of the two I suspected I think I've found the culprit by process of elimination.
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  • iBrokeITiBrokeIT GICSP, GXPN, GPEN, GWAPT, GCFE, GCIH, GSEC, Sec+, eJPT Member Posts: 1,272 ■■■■■■■■■□
    techfiend wrote: »
    After talking to one of the two I suspected I think I've found the culprit by process of elimination.

    I would be very careful about making assumptions. As paul78 pointed out, could have been a back channel discussion with someone else that may have known you. That sort of thing happens a lot more than you probably realize.
  • bjpeterbjpeter Member Posts: 195 ■■■□□□□□□□
    techfiend wrote: »
    I recently lost out on a position due to a last minute reference check. It was completely unexpected and I don't know who or what the issue is. I've only heard good things from third parties about my references. I don't want to wrongfully accuse someone but I'm not sure how to proceed with eliminating the bad reference. Any advice?

    Did the people who were in charge of the position tell you that someone gave you a bad reference? Maybe someone else who was also applying at the same time as you got hired instead. If you've reached out to everyone and they all had good things to say about you, maybe there were other factors.
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  • DatabaseHeadDatabaseHead CSM, ITIL x3, Teradata Assc, MS SQL Server, Project +, Server +, A+, N+, MS Project, CAPM, RMP Member Posts: 2,495 ■■■■■■■■■□
    techfiend wrote: »
    Job 1 was filled, that was through a staffing agency where they had candidates lined up. It felt good to win but it also felt good to decline another potential disaster of a position and some things just weren't a great fit for me.

    I do have a recruiter who I trust and lunch with regularly. I might take that route instead of calling them myself. After talking to one of the two I suspected I think I've found the culprit by process of elimination.

    I actually had a friend who had this happen to him as well. It was violent stabs in the back to put it nicely...... His recruiter followed back up and couldn't believe what this gal was saying about him..... This was a long time friend/boss too.... 15+ years and still an active "friendship". Unbelievable.

    You just never know, you really don't.
  • techfiendtechfiend Member Posts: 1,481 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Yes the hiring manager said at least one of your references... I'm still thinking about it but at this point I'm pretty passive and going forward I'll remove the new reference who I likely suspect is the culprit and only add them when it's absolutely required. It could have been back channeled and I really don't want to potentially lose a reference because I'm inquiring about it.
    2018 AWS Solutions Architect - Associate (Apr) 2017 VCAP6-DCV Deploy (Oct) 2016 Storage+ (Jan)
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  • ThePawofRizzoThePawofRizzo SSCP, A+, N+, Sec+, CySA+, Cloud+, CWTS Member Posts: 389 ■■■■□□□□□□
    In my city, the IT community isn't tiny, but it's small enough that there is a good chance that no matter where you apply, somebody there knows somebody that once worked with you. There is always a possibility through the proverbial degrees of separation that somebody at the prospective employer knows somebody that knows you, and knows you were up for a role there.

    I actually work here with a guy who took a job I had at another employer over a decade ago after I left. Another co-workers friend took the job role that a 3rd guy here had at yet another employer. My boss knows a dude who took a job at my former employer just recently. It could be something like that where some word got out from someone not even directly involved. For instance, a contractor here once worked at a former employer for me and a couple co-workers. I didn't work with him, but he seemed to have a good rep with others who were still at that employer after we left. The hiring manager just saw the company name, and came round to ask if we knew the prospective contractor. It may not have been a direct reference you were using, is my point.
  • Basic85Basic85 Senior Member Member Posts: 176 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Were these personal references or work history references like HR phone number. If it's work history type references than I would find out which company made you lost out on the job opportunity and sue them for defamation/slander.
  • paul78paul78 Member Posts: 3,016 ■■■■■■■■■■
    Basic85 wrote: »
    Were these personal references or work history references like HR phone number. If it's work history type references than I would find out which company made you lost out on the job opportunity and sue them for defamation/slander.

    I'm not sure that I would agree with your sentiment.

    1. The policies of 99% of HR departments in the US is that they do not provide references. But will only verify dates of employment and title, and in some cases they may verify total compensation.

    2. The question that is normally asked by a prospective employer to a previous employer is "would you re-hire that person again"? And it's a question that a hiring employer would use as a way of not asking for a reference. It is fact and not slander or defamation. You can't sue someone just because they won't rehire you.

    3. If you sue someone, that becomes public record. Some employers will shy away from candidates that sue their employer for what can be perceived as a frivolous reason.
  • DatabaseHeadDatabaseHead CSM, ITIL x3, Teradata Assc, MS SQL Server, Project +, Server +, A+, N+, MS Project, CAPM, RMP Member Posts: 2,495 ■■■■■■■■■□
    No benefit in HR giving out a ton of information, only risk....

    All the recruiters I worked with previously or currently say they state the last title and hire and exit dates (almost all of the time).

    They do not provided remployment status (according to a few recruiters I have discussed this with). This is generally for the company itself, in the event the former employee tries applying again. Not saying this is a scientific law, but seems to be the LARGE majority.

    In fact I know of a fortune 500 company that opt for refusal now.
  • techfiendtechfiend Member Posts: 1,481 ■■■■□□□□□□
    It was all professional references, those I directly reported to or worked extensively with. I've been told to sue for defamation from someone in a different industry that did and won easily. However that was back when references were more important. Today I see them almost as unimportant as cover letters, few companies ask for them and even less actually check them. I was lazy with my references and was suggested to keep up with them, which I'll do.

    I'm pretty sure I know who the culprit is, if there is one, a last minute reference because some of the others weren't responding. A former manager that happens to be very pessimistic. I've done nothing but praised him but we see the world in a different light.
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