Dealing with a Bad Reference

Following a year in a top management position at a new job, I had major health problems requiring hospitalization which affected my work performance. Prior to this position I have had an exemplary 13 year track record. I do not believe this organization or my supervisor will give me a positive reference and I may be terminated. How would you deal with this on a resume or in a job interview? Should I not list this on my resume, and if so, how do I explain the gap?

Sounds like you have had a tough time over the last several years and that you are feeling some frustration with your former employer. However, you did have the position for a year, they will be called for a reference so I would certainly list this last position. It sounds like you are still working there which also gives you an advantage when searching for the next position.

The main question is: Will listing the position on your resume add to your qualifications and value for the next employer? Were there accomplishments that can be quantified that give a good indication of who you are and what you can do in the workplace. That is the important thing. And yes, a gap of a year would be a red flag.

Companies should only give dates of employment when called for a reference, though this rule is not always followed to the letter. You might also deal with this in an interview by stating the truth and indicating that though you had some medical issues prior to leaving your last employer, you are completely healed and ready to work. What is most important is what you can bring to a new employer in the future, not only what has happened in the past.

Be careful, because you must NEVER say anything negative about a former employer. It will only reflect negatively on you. You might say there were some differences, but that's it. You can indicate that because of the differences, you are not sure if the reference would be positive but you might refer people to someone else who you worked closely with (other than your supervisor).

Good luck in your search. If you are feeling anger toward your previous employer, you might want to meet with a counselor to work out a "speech" so you are able to discuss the past situation with clarity and without emotion. Good luck!

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