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Does your boss (or coworker) have a right to have a say in your career?

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Re: Does your boss (or coworker) have a right to have a say in your career?

Postby Nate W. » Tue Jun 27, 2017 12:46 pm

RSD wrote:Hopefully not beating a dead horse here.....but I don't think it's your formal references that one needs to be concerned about. If I am contacting your references, that means you are a final, or THE final candidate for the job, and if you have even a decent rationale for me to not contact your current boss/PI, I will respect that. I find informal references much more telling and informative. For example, I had a candidate that looked great on paper, and really gave a nice first impression in the phone screen. But the biotech world is small, even in a biotech hub, so I asked a couple of coworkers and another person in my network, each of whom worked with this candidate previously. Each of them independently gave a very strong negative recommendation that this person was difficult to work with and was not a solid contributor. The candidate did not get the position.

Actual formal reference checks are the last step, and if you are loosing positions due to poor references you are doing it wrong.


In this case, it is actually the informal references from my coworkers and other thesis advisors that are saving me. It is the PI and his boss that are the problems. They hate each other. Most likely, it why the PI was asked to leave and why the PI's boss has interfered with the PI employee's who stayed behind (after 4 years! Please). Nobody has ever said I didn't anything wrong and sometimes they like my publications. The PI's boss believes in this guilt by association; your judgement should be questioned if worked for a guy like your PI. Frankly, both of them are acting like children and I just did my job. However, academics love to contact your PI if you have published with them and tend to believe this recommendation is free of bias or agenda. Why? Personally, I think some PIs lack any EQ or common sense about people.

I agree with you that the coworkers thoughts are far more helpful than that of an academic supervisor or PI.

Frankly, the two them of need to say nothing if they can't say something that is truthful.
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Re: Does your boss (or coworker) have a right to have a say in your career?

Postby Dave Jensen » Tue Jun 27, 2017 4:16 pm

RSD wrote:Hopefully not beating a dead horse here.....but I don't think it's your formal references that one needs to be concerned about. If I am contacting your references, that means you are a final, or THE final candidate for the job, and if you have even a decent rationale for me to not contact your current boss/PI, I will respect that. I find informal references much more telling and informative. For example, I had a candidate that looked great on paper, and really gave a nice first impression in the phone screen. But the biotech world is small, even in a biotech hub, so I asked a couple of coworkers and another person in my network, each of whom worked with this candidate previously. Each of them independently gave a very strong negative recommendation that this person was difficult to work with and was not a solid contributor. The candidate did not get the position.

Actual formal reference checks are the last step, and if you are loosing positions due to poor references you are doing it wrong.


Agree with what you said, RSD. My only caution is that you must not do what you describe (we call those "back door references") before the candidate has signed a statement saying that they are OK being referenced.

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Re: Does your boss (or coworker) have a right to have a say in your career?

Postby Nate W. » Tue Jun 27, 2017 8:51 pm

Dave Jensen wrote:
RSD wrote:Hopefully not beating a dead horse here.....but I don't think it's your formal references that one needs to be concerned about. If I am contacting your references, that means you are a final, or THE final candidate for the job, and if you have even a decent rationale for me to not contact your current boss/PI, I will respect that. I find informal references much more telling and informative. For example, I had a candidate that looked great on paper, and really gave a nice first impression in the phone screen. But the biotech world is small, even in a biotech hub, so I asked a couple of coworkers and another person in my network, each of whom worked with this candidate previously. Each of them independently gave a very strong negative recommendation that this person was difficult to work with and was not a solid contributor. The candidate did not get the position.

Actual formal reference checks are the last step, and if you are loosing positions due to poor references you are doing it wrong.


Agree with what you said, RSD. My only caution is that you must not do what you describe (we call those "back door references") before the candidate has signed a statement saying that they are OK being referenced.

Dave
Unfortunately, there are people who are nosey and like to gossip about others in the workplace. Due to political correctness and the competitiveness of the workplace, today some coworkers feel like they should have a say in other people's career. I strongly believe this is none of their business and I would like to have control over who speaks to a prospective employer. I would never provide a reference for someone unless they asked me and I expect my colleagues to do the same. Once you go down this route, it only takes one jealous employee with a grudge to wreak someone's opportunity; whereby these back door references are enabling defamation and unfounded rumors to influence your career. Despite your efforts to be nice to everyone in the workplace, there is always that one person who you will just not get along with and/or has a grudge.

Is there a professional way to minimize this possibility?

I only want those who are objective and honest to speak with my prospective employers.
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Re: Does your boss (or coworker) have a right to have a say in your career?

Postby RSD » Wed Jun 28, 2017 7:19 pm

Dave Jensen wrote:Agree with what you said, RSD. My only caution is that you must not do what you describe (we call those "back door references") before the candidate has signed a statement saying that they are OK being referenced.

Dave


Interesting point here - when does it become a reference? If I ask my co-worker for their opinion of a former colleague of hers, is that a reference? Does it matter where if the prospective candidate has been contacted? Phone interviewed? Interviewed? It seems a very blurry line to me. (If there is a clear line here please educate me.)

I see a clear distinction between cold calling a current or former coworker of a candidate without permission and asking someone in my company/network for their opinion. I see this the same way as networking into a position - the opinion of someone I know and trust holds a lot more weight than the opinion of a stranger.
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Re: Does your boss (or coworker) have a right to have a say in your career?

Postby Nate W. » Thu Jun 29, 2017 10:13 am

RSD wrote:
Dave Jensen wrote:Agree with what you said, RSD. My only caution is that you must not do what you describe (we call those "back door references") before the candidate has signed a statement saying that they are OK being referenced.

Dave


Interesting point here - when does it become a reference? If I ask my co-worker for their opinion of a former colleague of hers, is that a reference? Does it matter where if the prospective candidate has been contacted? Phone interviewed? Interviewed? It seems a very blurry line to me. (If there is a clear line here please educate me.)

I see a clear distinction between cold calling a current or former coworker of a candidate without permission and asking someone in my company/network for their opinion. I see this the same way as networking into a position - the opinion of someone I know and trust holds a lot more weight than the opinion of a stranger.


I have to agree with RSD on this one. If one is conducting back door references, one has to consider the potential impact on the candidate's current position. Further, one's has to assess whether the person contacted really knows the person in a professional capacity to make an informed assessment about their character and abilities. Like I said before, there are always people out their that will hold a grudge or be jealous of a candidate and not tell the truth. This sets up a slippery slope whereby the information gathered is just gossip. In the situation explained in this post, I have a boss's supervisor who hates my boss and would probably give a negative reference for anybody associated with my former boss even though I hardly know him and he never evaluated my work performance. Is that fair? A reference is not useful unless the person has evaluated your work performance and knows you professionally over some period of time as well as can honestly and objectively evaluate you w/o prejudice or bias. Otherwise, they should just say no but they don't always do that.

Further, I question whether this is legal. When I spoke with an employment attorney, who I know personally, he said that when a third party, like a recruiter, performs a background check on an individual they (and their organization) is subject the guidelines of the fair credit act (FCRA) whereby they must ensure the accuracy of all information gathered. For example, a reference posted online by a student is subject to the FCRA and the website is held liable for its accuracy. The same is true for a recruiter if a dishonest fact is gathered by a recruiter via a back door reference and it eliminates one from consideration, the recruiter (or agency) must ensure the statement's accuracy (whether the candidate consented the background check or not); otherwise, you are opening yourself open to a law suit.

See:

Investigative consumer report:

http://www.starpointemploymentscreening ... ting-act-2

This is why I want a prospective employer to only contact the names that I provide them and if they want more, I'll provide them with more names. Otherwise, this approach just enables gossip and defamation. It is a bad approach for both the candidate and employer (or recruiter) to gather information this way.
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Re: Does your boss (or coworker) have a right to have a say in your career?

Postby D.X. » Fri Jun 30, 2017 2:04 am

Hi Nate and RSD,

Well regarding your comments on back door references, this is a woulda, coulda, shoulda, type Topic.

The reality is it happens. We are in an even more networked world than ever before and you can never really control back-door references. At best you can be Aware of them - this world is small and surely you can't go calling the whole world.

Hiring Managers are free to call whome ever within their own Network and reality, you as a candidate may never know and if you, know, what are you doing to do? so what?

If you are rejected the reality is that you'll never know if the reason was due to an unsolicited references (see my Point above).

Officially most companies use such blanket Terms for rejection, i.e. lack of fit to Team, or a more qualified candidate, to a Point where such Feedback becomes, well, meaningless.

So, you'll never know how People your work with directly or indireclty feel about you, best you can do is treat everyone with some respect, some courtesy, and some taste.

you have more to lose acting on a perception of negative reference from a possible unsoliticed reference - all the above is hard to prove - so let it go and ensrue your Network is sufficiently informed.

Often you'll know if there was unsoliticted contact by maybe a weird question, in my case it has happened where i didn't know (exactly) who was contacted but they got feed back which was the subject of the interview questions - for me they way I handled it was, by saying, "thank you for the interested subjective Feedback, objectively lets look at the Feedback from by Prior Boss, which I am ware you solicited and my track record of Awards with financial benefit to my backaccount from my current employer"

So the Point in that example i gave, is if you do find yourself in that Situation, always acknowledge potentially subjectivity and defer to objective references, if at all possible by a line-manager or ex-line Manager or cross-fuctional Project leader in your current or past employer with whom you have a relationship. Also if your employee year end Reviews are good....share them! Why not?

Good luck,

DX
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Re: Does your boss (or coworker) have a right to have a say in your career?

Postby Dave Jensen » Fri Jun 30, 2017 2:25 pm

I agree with DX that you'd never know it if you were back door referenced. It just won't show up on the radar . . . Person A at the company you're applying to makes a call to Person B who you used to work with, and that person tells Person A that you were a real jerk, not a team player, political animal, etc, and you are toast. It will never be something that rises to the surface -- which is why it's called "back door" in my profession. There's nothing you can do to stop it. If you are a jerk, you will be identified as such.

What's the solution? The solution is not to leave land mines behind you. There's nothing further that can be said about this, because no one will stop doing them just because some attorney somewhere says you shouldn't. The best you can hope for is that HR talks to the hiring team and advises them that it is not a good practice. Even with that stroke of luck, the majority of hiring managers will say "that's BS -- I'll do what I want, and I won't listen to HR."

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Re: Does your boss (or coworker) have a right to have a say in your career?

Postby Nate W. » Sat Jul 01, 2017 3:53 pm

If you are doing your job and getting promoted, you are going to make enemies throughout your career no matter how nice you are to everyone. Why then should the one jealous jerk that a prospective manager might find have a say in one's career? Especially if they didn't manage this person or work with this person on a daily basis.

Frankly, I would be worried if someone did NOT have a fellow jerk or enemy in their career past, especially if they were productive. I am sure I could find an enemy from DX's and Dave's career past.

If Person A called me asking about Person B, first I would think Person A and his call would be creepy. I wouldn't provided a reference if Person B didn't give me permission to do so and/or if I didn't have anything positive to say.

Further, I would consider Person A terrible naïve about people. Person A calls a person randomly who he thinks might be associated with the candidate and expects Person B to share his opinion (and facts) about a candidates' qualifications. However, Person A does NOT know the nature of the relationship and the evolution of that relationship; and Person A is going to trust Person B. That's like trusting LinkedIn recommendations or Facebook likes. I get what Person A is trying to avoid. But how informative is this method; it depends on the source.

Sometimes you suspect who the offending person is. Then if this is an ongoing problem. Hire a reference checking company. Do a background check to identify the person. Then a send a cease and desist letter to his supervisor and HR. Then HR will tell the offending person to shut up and this person will never provide a backdoor reference again. HR will this person either you don't have the authority to provide a reference and/or only provide dates and titles. Dave, this will stop an offending backdoor reference.

It is my position that this practice is wrong and that only persons who I give authority to can and should provide a reference for me. Those individuals with professional integrity will abide by this unwritten rule. However, I guess I am in the minority opinion and the good apples have to pay for sins of some bad apples.

PS: I heard that LinkedIn has contributed to this problem. So be careful who you add to your connections at your current workplace and feel free to cull those connections if you don't have a good relationship with them or you think they are problematic.
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Re: Does your boss (or coworker) have a right to have a say in your career?

Postby Dave Jensen » Sun Jul 02, 2017 12:24 pm

Nate W. wrote:If you are doing your job and getting promoted, you are going to make enemies throughout your career no matter how nice you are to everyone. Why then should the one jealous jerk that a prospective manager might find have a say in one's career? Especially if they didn't manage this person or work with this person on a daily basis


I don't believe this is true. At all. I work all day long with people who are liked and respected. They do not generate "enemies."

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Re: Does your boss (or coworker) have a right to have a say in your career?

Postby D.X. » Mon Jul 03, 2017 3:05 am

Nate W. wrote:If you are doing your job and getting promoted, you are going to make enemies throughout your career no matter how nice you are to everyone. Why then should the one jealous jerk that a prospective manager might find have a say in one's career? Especially if they didn't manage this person or work with this person on a daily basis.

Frankly, I would be worried if someone did NOT have a fellow jerk or enemy in their career past, especially if they were productive. I am sure I could find an enemy from DX's and Dave's career past.

If Person A called me asking about Person B, first I would think Person A and his call would be creepy. I wouldn't provided a reference if Person B didn't give me permission to do so and/or if I didn't have anything positive to say.

Further, I would consider Person A terrible naïve about people. Person A calls a person randomly who he thinks might be associated with the candidate and expects Person B to share his opinion (and facts) about a candidates' qualifications. However, Person A does NOT know the nature of the relationship and the evolution of that relationship; and Person A is going to trust Person B. That's like trusting LinkedIn recommendations or Facebook likes. I get what Person A is trying to avoid. But how informative is this method; it depends on the source.

Sometimes you suspect who the offending person is. Then if this is an ongoing problem. Hire a reference checking company. Do a background check to identify the person. Then a send a cease and desist letter to his supervisor and HR. Then HR will tell the offending person to shut up and this person will never provide a backdoor reference again. HR will this person either you don't have the authority to provide a reference and/or only provide dates and titles. Dave, this will stop an offending backdoor reference.

It is my position that this practice is wrong and that only persons who I give authority to can and should provide a reference for me. Those individuals with professional integrity will abide by this unwritten rule. However, I guess I am in the minority opinion and the good apples have to pay for sins of some bad apples.

PS: I heard that LinkedIn has contributed to this problem. So be careful who you add to your connections at your current workplace and feel free to cull those connections if you don't have a good relationship with them or you think they are problematic.


Hi Nate,

A few issues here.

First, agreeing with Dave you're not going to create enemies that are going to go out an proactively damage you career.

And, I did not create enemies, but certainly I have had my negative advocates in my career. None of those negative adovocates were ever my enemies - you see most if them, were my sanity checkers. And many have served as references for me and have helped with my development as they have been great at identifying my Areas of development. I think as Dave said, ist how you treat them. And the reality is that, for every 1 negative advocate I have, I have 10 positive ones. And with ALL my negative advocates, they may not like my work style, but, I have their Professional respect. So I'm ok if someone contacts them, at worse they can Highlight an area of development and at best, their Feedback is subjective and persception based in light of my objective references, experience and demonstrated Performance achieved through team-work and leadership. In General, your negative advocates tend to disappear rapidly over time especially when your positive ones outweight those in number. But some...in my case some have been jewels an have been able to park thier personal differences for me and have been there for my professionally.

Regarding Person A calling Person B, it happens today. Creepy or not it happens, so as I and Dave said...treat everyone respectfully. Acknowledging you may still have your negative advocates you can't fully control but if you are always beyond reproach then you're good to go.


Regarding hiring an agency to do back ground blah blah blah, seriously Nate? Seriously? You have time to do that? Is this such an ongoing problem for you? You care enough to do that?

Not to be insulting but have you actually generated an enemy that actually has time beyond their Job, family, Hobbies, and bill paying to come after you? what did you do? Are you such a good apple?

I'm not sure but I don't Support your advice here and like you, my career journey has not been easy and fraught with challenges, and continues to be.

Best,

DX
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