Non-referenced Employers Can Still Hurt You

"Beware" Sign on PlatformDear J.T. & Dale: A former employer (that I quit) manages to keep giving information to companies when I apply for jobs. I’ve had other jobs since this employer, and I don’t even list the old company as a reference. How is it possible for them to know where I’m applying? — Joey

J.T.: Most likely, the new companies are doing background checks. Just because you don’t list an employer on applications doesn’t mean it doesn’t show up in a background check. That’s why companies do them! When they do, they are likely to contact the old employer, and that’s when they get the information.

Dale: So, there’s no point in leaving the old employer off your applications. Doing so will make a prospective employer either dismiss you immediately, or put special emphasis on checking you out with that company. Instead of ignoring that part of your past, you need to “inoculate” against whatever it is the new company might hear. Explain in the interview you quit and the old employer resents you. Then, make sure you have several great references in order to make the net effect positive. That way, when they call your old nemesis and they hear bad things, they think, “That’s just what Joey said I’d hear,” and there you are, Mr. Honest. Not bad.

Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm,, and of the career management blog, Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with

Please visit them at, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.

© 2011 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

2 Responses

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