Even though it’s always best to leave a position when everyone is raving about you and wishes that you could stay, it’s not always possible. Sometimes the position does not work out, and your professional reputation may suffer as a result. It may be that you had a negative relationship with your boss. Or it could be that you had personal issues that spilled over to your work, and you were let go. Yet another possibility is that you took on a major project, and instead of you becoming the hero, the project failed miserably. Or perhaps you are in sales and you just did not make your numbers.
Whatever the scenario, the issue for you is that you need to repair your professional reputation in your profession and/or industry so that you can start over again. The question is how.
First, realize that most employers will only verify the most basic information about you. Usually they will not give a reference. They will simply confirm your dates of employment and your job title. So you should not be overly concerned about your boss giving you a negative reference.
Here are some specific tips for handling a delicate situation where your reputation may be at stake:
1) As far as references are concerned, identify someone that you worked with at the organization who was a colleague or even a second or third level boss who you had a good relationship with that you can use as a reference. In many cases bosses at any level will not serve as references for candidates while they are still with the organization, but if you know someone who has moved on to another job or who has retired who can serve in this capacity for you, this will be a good choice. Ask these references to write recommendations for you on LinkedIn. This will create a positive impression for you since most employers are now using LinkedIn to vet and source their candidates.
2) Be prepared to give an answer in the interview about why you left your previous position. Interviewers are trained to look for red flags in the interview, and if you give an answer that leaves questions in the interviewer’s mind, you will certainly raise that red flag. In order to give an appropriate answer about why you left, you will need to move past any negative feelings that you might have about the situation. Otherwise, that negativity can bleed over into the interview and cost you the job.
3) If you work in a field where everyone knows everyone, and you know that there are certain people at your old job who will likely be asked about your performance, try to make amends with them. Take them out to lunch or dinner and show that you are willing to let bygones be bygones. You cannot afford to get blacklisted because employees from your previous employer are badmouthing you, even if it is unofficially.
For professional assistance with managing your professional reputation, talk to a career coach at 877-743-9521 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.