Reader’s comment about former employersLet’s start with the reader’s side of things. As someone who did reference checking for many years, I found what he shared with us especially interesting. …
Dear Ronnie Ann,
First of all, I resent having to be the one to contact old employers. I personally do not ever want to speak to them again. But I still have the personal cell phone number but not the email because the company is now out of business.
Is it just me that finds it awkward to revisit an unpleasant situation. I don’t want to reach out to those A holes who laid me off. People are free to call (I don’t see how I could get a bad review from them since I did a very good job for them and I don’t think they are THAT vindictive).
Anyway, this is BS. If a phone number changes or a company goes out of business, it should be up to the person who is doing the background check to track them down because I don’t want any more dealings with those people.
~ Pigbitin Mad
My response to PigbitinIn my answer, I wanted to be respectful of what the reader was feeling since job search is incredibly frustrating. But I also wanted to help offer a slightly different perspective in case it might help:
I’m not sure what to say. You’ve expressed yourself well, and I bet you are not alone in what you are feeling.
I had an awful boss early on that I never wanted to be in touch with again; I even considered him a friend at one point. As time passed, I got enough good references to never have to deal with him again. In my case, I built up enough other references — co-workers and former bosses who could speak to my abilities.
While it’s still best to provide as much contact info as possible, if you can’t track down the email address of a particular person (or prefer not to), you can at least list their name, company, etc. and explain that the company no longer exists (and you can’t find their contact info) using a reference sheet format like this for your note:
It at least shows you are addressing the situation. Then give them the very strongest other references you can, like a former co-worker who can tell them how good you were to work with. Or someone from a volunteer / freelance job. I often got hired without giving every single former boss as a reference.
The choice is up to you
It’s up to you to decide if you want to reveal you have an old cell phone number, noting that too — but it leaves an awkward explanation about why you didn’t call them and / or why the person is surprised to be hearing from them. Or, it may not work any more. Still, that’s ok too if you prefer it. No one size fits all.
Personally, I’d put myself into a future head (like nothing bad ever happened) and call the person anyway to (1) try to ensure that they are giving you a decent reference (if not, you can leave out the number); and (2) because it shows the new employer you took the time to go the extra step, something that reflects on the kind of employee you will be.
But again, if it’s something you choose not to do, it isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. In the end, you are wise to do what feels right for you after considering all aspects of your decision.
~ Ronnie Ann