Did your last job result in a bad move? Learn how to play the game to your advantage.
A job is just one step in a career path. As you work your way from one position to another, continuity is provided through your CV, which includes references from previous employers. The concept of the career ladder exemplifies this – each rung is based on and linked to the last. However, what does a jobseeker do if one of the rungs is not that stable; if their last position ended badly and they cannot expect a good reference to move forward?
The Basic Conditions of Employment Act stipulates that employees are entitled to a certificate of service on termination of employment. This should state “the employee’s full name; the name and address of the employer; a description of any council or sectoral employment standard by which the employer’s business is covered; the date of commencement and date of termination of employment; the title of the job or a brief description of the work for which the employee was employed at date of termination; the remuneration at date of termination; and if the employee so requests, the reason for termination of employment.”
Thus, legally employers are committed to providing the minimum amount of information. However, when companies are hiring, they do not just look at the record of service but expect a list of recent contact references. The standard reasons companies check is to see how well you performed in previous positions and to gain an understanding of your work personality.
When it comes to references, it is good practice for the job seeker to contact all the people listed so that they expect the call. On your CV, note further details next to the references: their position in the company; their relation to you, and the length of time that you worked with the person.
In the event that your last job ended badly, you need to navigate carefully. Put previous work references down and then, if you worked in other departments in your last company, find out whether it is possible to use those supervisors as a reference.
Call them and explain the situation. Since they know you and your work record on a firsthand basis, they will be more amenable in providing you with a positive reference.
Also, prepare for any interviews. Look at your work during the time where you would have received a bad reference. Look at what was accomplished, any promotions, special recognition and extra responsibilities (such as employees placed under you). Use this information to balance the fact that you have not provided your last boss as a reference.
During the interview explain the omission in objective language. You can be diplomatic, explaining that you and the previous boss had different approaches.