How to Explain a Negative Job Reference

Sometimes you just can’t help but have a negative reference in your job history. Luckily, there are good ways to handle this bad situation.

Explain What Went Wrong

Everyone makes mistakes sometimes. A solid explanation about why your manager is giving you a negative job reference can go a long way toward understanding. Just explain whatever it was that caused the issue. Maybe you were too young, or it was your first job ever, or there were extenuating circumstances. Once you’ve had a chance to explain, it will soften the ramifications.

Make it a Learning Experience

You can turn a negative job reference into a positive if you focus on what you were able to learn from the experience. Making a mistake once is one thing, but if you can show that it will never happen again and why, then that demonstrates intelligence and an ability to learn from past mistakes, which are valuable assets.

Get Other References From the Same Place

Sometimes your manager just doesn’t give you a fair chance and that’s why you ended up with a negative job reference. You can circumvent the damage by getting other references from the same place. Contact colleagues and even managers from other departments to see if they would be willing to give you positive references either verbally or in writing. This will show that it wasn’t your job performance, but some other issue with the manager that caused the bad reference.

Don’t Bad Mouth the Manager

Whatever you do, don’t badmouth your former employer. You have to use one of the techniques mentioned above to explain a negative job reference. Bad mouthing just makes you look bad, and it won’t help your job chances.

Negative job references can really damage your reputation and hurt your chances for future jobs. But with these tips, they don’t have to.