How do I keep an employer from calling my old boss?

Question: How do I keep potential employers from calling my old boss? I fear he will say something that will ruin my job chances.

Answer: Just because a potential employer asks for your former supervisor's name and contact information on its application form doesn't mean that you have to give it to them. In fact, most companies forbid their employees from taking such calls. They tell their employees to refer all questions about a former employee to the Human Resources department. 

Why? Because a former boss could say something that could not only hurt your job chances, but put your former company at risk. That's because you could sue your former employer for defamation of character because of what your old boss said about you. This article from provides details about what constitutes defamation.

What should you do? 
When asked to provide your former supervisor's name and contact information, handle it this way:

Supervisor's First Name: Company Policy
Supervisor's Last Name: Call HR
Supervisor's Phone Number: [HR DEPARTMENT'S PHONE NUMBER]
Supervisor's Email Address: [HR DEPARTMENT'S MAIN EMAIL ADDRESS]

Why this works: You are abiding by your former company's rule (I guarantee that they don't want people to call your former boss!) while providing the potential employer with the appropriate contact at your old company. 

Fortunately most Human Resources departments are trained to only give neutral, basic information about your employment with the company, such as ... 

  • Beginning and ending employment dates
  • Beginning and ending job titles
  • Beginning and ending salary or wages
  • Occasionally they will also answer the question, "Is this former employer eligible for re-hire," to which the HR representative may answer yes or no with no reason given for the answer. 
Even if the HR department says that you aren't eligible for re-hire, that answer in itself is not necessarily a deal breaker because companies often make those who paid to go away (such as through a layoff or "voluntary" separation) ineligible for re-hire.

It's important to note that it is not illegal for past employers to say more about you than just "name, rank and serial number". As this article on Monster explains, they can and sometimes do say more ... and that "more" could be negative. But your chances of the company sticking to the neutral basics are better when you direct them to the Human Resources department rather than sending them to your old boss who wishes you harm. 

Other Tips

  • Confirm with your past employers' Human Resources departments to see what they plans to say about you. Seek to get such statements in writing.
  • Make amends with former bosses. Even if you tell people to call HR, they may try contacting your former supervisors anyway. You'll sleep better at night knowing there aren't old bosses out there trying to destroy you.
  • If you learn that a former employer is bad mouthing you, call the HR department and tell them that you will seek legal action if they don't stop. That will usually solve the problem.
  • If you know a former boss will speak positively about you, by all means direct the potential employer to that person!   

Be smart about how you direct potential employers to your former company ... doing so can help you ... Get a Job!

What thoughts do you have about this topic? 
Has a former employer trashed you to a potential employer? How did you handle it? Share your questions or comments! -- Kathy


Why speaking opportunities can lead to a job … or a better one

Why should you speak publicly while in job search mode? Because the perception of someone who delivers presentations, and who does it really well, is that they are an expert. Companies like to hire and promote experts.

Research shows that speaking engagements are:

1) Business opportunities
2) Career opportunities
3) Leadership opportunities

Merely being in front of a group and presenting sets you apart from the crowd, particularly if you do it well. To be a strong presenter, consistently study, practice and apply the art and science of public speaking and presentation skills.

Steps to strong presenting

  • KNOW your subject.
  • STUDY to develop a higher level of expertise on your topic than others possess.
  • KNOW the structure or outline of your presentation and follow it.
  • HAVE A POINT - Have you ever seen and heard a speaker talk and talk and not say anything? Don’t be that person! Download FREE Speaker’s Template
  • KNOW your content so that you can convey it seamlessly. Delivery trumps content.

If you don't have excellent presentation skills, you can learn them. Check out Toastmasters and consider hiring a professional presentation coach.
There are speaking opportunities off line and online. Let’s look at each.

Off-Line Speaking Opportunities
Many groups, associations, and companies have guest speakers. You can find contact information for most of these groups online. The majority of such groups do not pay a speaking fee, but they may offer you a meal and a table to sell your books. (You have a book or are working on one, aren’t you? … being an author also encourages people to think of you as an expert).

If asked what you charge (and your research tells you they don’t pay), tell them you’ll “waive your regular fee for them.” Eventually you may work your way into paying gigs.

Groups that often seek speakers include:

  • Chambers of commerce
  • Meetup groups
  • Professional and trade associations
  • Rotary clubs
  • Lions clubs
  • Optimists clubs
  • Colleges
  • Companies that have “Lunch & Learns” with guest speakers

TV and Radio
Pursue opportunities to appear as an expert on a local TV news shows or on locally-produced shows like Good Morning, Cleveland or Show-Me St. Louis.

  • Become the go-to person to comment on a trending news story. Continually let TV and radio producers and reporter know of your topical expertise by calling, emailing, and mailing them information about why you are the go-to expert. (Producers keep a list of experts … be on their list for your topics!) The better you do in these interviews, the more often that they will reach out to you when your topic comes up in the news.
  • Consider TV stations’ paid programming option. You pay to be on their show, but it looks like a real interview, which can help you spread the word that you are an expert. 
  • Look into being a guest on someone else’s Internet Radio program, such as on Blog Talk Radio, or host your own show on such sites.

Book Promotion
If you’ve written a book, seek to make presentations about it or have a book-signing event at:

  • Book stores
  • Libraries
  • Specialty stores that sell products related to your book subject

Online Speaking Opportunities
The Internet provides a variety of speaking engagements. Let’s look at a few:

Most people are visual learners. The next most popular way people process information is by listening. YouTube delivers the best of both worlds! 

  • If you don’t have a YouTube Channel, get one! Regularly post short, informational videos on the site to build a following. 
  • Link the video to your website and to your dedicated landing page for a particular offer. 
  • Add the web address into the description section of the video, reached by clicking on Video Manager. View my YouTube channel.
  • Produce good videos. They don’t have to be professionally produced, but by spending a bit of money, studying the craft of video production, and practicing, you can produce quality videos. 
  • Search DIY Video Production on YouTube. You will find lots of help.

Here are my recommendations for producing quality videos:

  • Your cell phone video camera may work adequately, but it is best to invest in an HD video camera.
  • Good lighting is essential. DIY videos on this topic are worth your time investment. The kind of lights and where they focus is critical. My preference is infinite white lighting, because it is nothing but bright white with no distractions, which puts the focus on me, the speaker, where it should be.
  • Editing software is mandatory for a good video production. ScreenFlow for Mac and Camtasia for PC and Macs are excellent, moderately priced choices.
  • Sites like SlideShare let you embed your video into a PowerPoint presentation or upload video clip links onto your LinkedIn profile and web site. SlideShare gets great traffic so posting your videos there will help you build a following.

Since many people are auditory learners, add an audio (only) option in addition to a video link at the top of your blog posts. View related article.

  • Invest in a good microphone. I use a Rode Smartlav Lavaliere microphone that plugs into my iPhone.  
  • Use audio editing software such as Audacity, which is available for free for Macs and PCs.
  • Link your audio to your iTunes Podcast Channel. Doing so provides another way for Google to find and promote your content.

In conclusion ... work it!

  • Tell everyone that you are looking for speaking engagements! List your topics and provide them with your contact information so that they can easily pass on your information to others. Refer other speakers to your interviewers or event hosts. Many will repay the kindness by referring you!
  • Call, email, and continually follow-up with groups to secure speaking opportunities. Getting booked may take a while at first, so be patient and persistent.
  • Your talk should not be a commercial, although with permission from the host, you may be able to touch briefly on what you offer. Your presentation should provide valuable information that the audience can use. If all you do is sell, you’ll lose speaking opportunities because your presentations will be considered too sales-focused.

Pursue Speaking Opportunities! Doing so can help youGet a Job!

Prepare for your speaking opportunities by getting your FREE Speaker’s Template HERE!

Guest post by Fred E. Miller, Speaker, Author, and Presentation Coach

The title of his first book is “NO SWEAT Public Speaking!”

Thanks, Fred! You just made learning to pursue speaking opportunities No Sweat! Consider contacting Fred to learn how to speak publicly. Businesses, individuals, and organizations hire Fred to improve their networking, public speaking, and presentation skills. -- Kathy

Fred's contact information:

Following up after a job interview

Do you let hiring companies know that you are still interested in working for them after the job interview? 

Many job seekers don't ... at their own peril. If a hiring decision maker thinks that you are uninterested, they may simply move on to the next (seemingly more enthusiastic) candidate.

Lack of follow up could be particularly problematic for Millennials who are more comfortable texting than responding to employers' voice mail and email messages. 

Learn more about how and why to follow up with hiring companies in this article that I was interviewed for on yesyoucanonline.

Follow-up on the jobs that you want! Being interested and showing it can definitely help you ... Get a Job! Kathy

Related articles
Emailing a hiring manager after applying for a job  
Sending a follow up email message  
Following up on job opportunities by phone

The right clothes to wear on job interviews for men and women

Tailored business options for women.

The right interview outfit can pay dividends well beyond its price. Although no company is likely to base a hiring decision directly on your outfit, decisions are made every day based on the beliefs your appearance causes an interviewer to form about you. Newest research reveals it takes as little as 7 seconds for someone to form a whole laundry list of impressions of you, and you want to be sure they are all positive ones.

Traditional businesswear for men.

Despite what many so-called experts promote, a navy blue suit is not the Magic Bullet. The right wardrobe choices for interviewing are far more nuanced. Here is the real info you need to know to create a winning first impression:

  • DO your homework to understand how the people in this organization dress for work. Is it a traditional suited environment, a free-wheeling casual/creative place or something in between. Ask a friend on the inside, check out the photos on the company web site or in the annual report, or drive to the parking lot at closing time and watch the people coming and going. Be aware that appearance styles within a large organization can vary widely from department to department, and adjust your intelligence gathering accordingly.
  • DRESS toward the top end of the looks your research reveals are appropriate. Dressing too casually can make you appear less serious about your candidacy for the position.
  • DON’T over-dress, though. A formal business suit in a more relaxed company can make you appear desperate and trying too hard, or position you in the dreaded “over-qualified” category.
  • DEFINE Business Casual with an emphasis on business and avoid social-casual attire. Choose instead:
  • Men (Business Casual): Nicer khaki trousers, not top-stitched cotton styles, with a small-patterned long-sleeved shirt or a like-new, traditional color polo shirt and leather loafers.
  • Women (Business Casual): Neutral-colored slim skirt or trousers with a shell and blazer or a twin sweater set, leather flats or low-heel pumps.
  • Distinctive touches can help you be more memorable to an interviewer who has talked to multiple candidates.  LinkedIn Influencer Jeff Haden – in an article about what interviewers want to see from candidates – shares that “the more people we interview for a job, and the more spread out those interviews, the more likely we are to remember certain candidates by impressions rather than by a long list of facts.” A scarf or interesting necklace can do the trick for a woman.  A distinctive fountain pen could be a good choice for a man.  An interesting necktie can also make you stand out from the crowd, but avoid the mistake one client made when he interviewed for an internal promotion wearing a Mickey Mouse tie.
  • DOUBLE-check the details:
  1. Shoes polished, appropriate hosiery or dark socks
  2. Garments clean, crisply pressed, well fitted.
  3. Fingernails groomed
  4. Facial hair – if any – neat and conservatively trimmed.
  5. Necktie ending in line with the belt buckle; no tie clip or tie tack
  6. No visible wear on belt or handbag
  7. Subtle but polished makeup
  8. Neatly trimmed and styled hair; natural-looking color with no visible roots; no hair ornaments
  9. Jewelry limited to watch and wedding ring and/or college ring; tailored earrings for women, nothing glitzy, noisy or dangling.
  10. No cologne or other fragrances
  • DEMONSTRATE your preparation; carry a nice portfolio with personal business cards, resume or other materials and a quality pen for taking notes or completing required paperwork.

Business casual styles for women.
Business casual styles for men.

Go beyond the basics and select wardrobe colors that enhance your message. With a man’s dark suit, an ivory or white shirt connotes authority while a pale blue one sends a more friendly, collaborative message. A small contrasting stripe or tiny plaid shirt gives a slightly more creative impression.

For women, the high-contrast symbolism still applies, but you can have more flexibility in you color combinations. With a navy pantsuit, try a sage green shell. Pair charcoal gray with blush, or dark brown with dusty aqua blue. A knit shell or fine-gauge sweater will look and feel better under a jacket than a cotton button-up shirt. And if you arrive to find yourself over-dressed, that sleeveless shell will let you easily push up the jacket sleeves to relax the look a notch or two.

For both genders, avoid wearing clothes with extreme light/dark contrast – black and white is the classic example – because the intensity of the combination will overpower the color pattern in your face and pull attention to the garments and away from your communications center.

Select accessories that compliment your hair and eyes.

Look for opportunities to repeat the color of your hair and your eyes in your outfit. A man’s necktie or a woman’s scarf provides one great option to work in those colors. By doing so you subtly encourage the interviewer to make eye contact with you more readily and sustain that eye contact longer, creating a positive, friendly emotional connection.

If your interview outfit is a level or two dressier than your everyday wear, plan for a practice run in advance of the real event. You want to be sure everything feels comfortable and familiar so your positive body language won’t be interrupted by fiddling with your clothes.

Wear the right outfit on your job interviews ... because you never get a second chance to make a positive impression.

Nancy Nix-Rice
Guest blog post by Nancy Nix-Rice 
Image/Wardrobe Consultant | Color Consultant | Personal Shopper | National Speaker | Author of LOOKING GOOD Every Day

Thank you, Nancy! If you are looking for a wardrobe consultant to "up" your game for interviewing, I highly recommend Nancy. Visit her web site to learn more. -- Kathy

Style idea images shown were selected by Nancy from Polyvore


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