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IHAVEANIDEA.ORG > ask jancy >  My current employer would likely give bad references if I left —HELP!

My current employer would likely give bad references if I left —HELP!


Hi Jancy,
I’ve been doing in house creative work for the same company for three years, with two years of marketing creative work before that. I am now looking to get hired at an agency. During my three years with the most current company, I saw several occasions where they torpedoed a previous employees chances of getting a new job by giving a bad recommendation when called by a prospective employer. Unfortunately, the company and I did not part in an amicable manner, so I am certain they would speak ill of me if contacted. Likely even downplay my responsibilities with them, thus making it seem as if I was exaggerating/lying on my resume (I’ve seen them do this before).
My question is: Do ad agencies contact your previous employers when considering you for employment? Or do they just look at your book?

intro My current employer would likely give bad references if I left —HELP!You can count on your previous employer being contacted. References are critical to decision making on the most important asset any agency has—its people. If bridges were burned when you left, you have a few things to consider. When there’s serious interest from a new employer, you may consider transparency about leaving on bad terms. This won’t necessarily prevent a negative outcome, but you can only look good for your honesty. Never bash your former employer in your explanation; keep it professional and unemotional. The other option that may or may not be viable, depending on what created the bad exit, may be to meet with your old boss for a conversation. Telling him or her that you’d like closure on a poor exit may be welcomed. If they can leave such a meeting feeling they have been heard and you appreciated all you got from working together, you could feel better and they may not sabotage your next opportunity. That’s a good move even if they are unmoved. Finally, giving the prospective employer a reference that includes a senior co-worker from your previous job that would back up your strong performance and role there may help. Good luck.

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About Jancy

'Jancy' is Janet Kestin and Nancy Vonk, Co-Founders of Swim, a unique “creative leadership training lab for advertising creatives and marketers.” Prior to Swim, Jancy was globally renowned as the Co-Chief Creative Officers of Ogilvy & Mather Toronto, a position they held for thirteen of the twenty years they were a creative duo at the agency. Over the years they've racked up Cannes Lions, Clios, One Show pencils and CA credits, and have lead their shop to two Cannes Lions Grand Prix and a Grand Clio. They've judged CA, Cannes, D&AD, the One Show, the Clios and other prestigious award shows. Creativity named them two of the top 50 creative people of 2008. Known for their outspoken, no-bullshit style and a passion for mentoring juniors, they're ready to give you advice if you're ready to take it.

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