A reader write:
I recently retired from a job that I had been at for more than 30 years. For most of that time, I had the same manager. In the last few years, we had a new manager and it was no longer a happy place to work. During that time, I ended ended up almost doing all of the new manager's job for her.
This new manager was a nasty person and although I remained professional and managed to get through it all, I feel they are now making it difficult for me to secure new employment. To make along story short, I feel I am being "blackballed" by this person and that they are not giving me a good recommendation, even though I worked there for so long and had nothing but excellent evaluations, and did a good job.
I am now looking for another job. Since July, I have applied to over twenty jobs and have yet to find employment. I have been called in for at least five serious interviews, but still have not secured jobs which I know that I am qualified for.
I guess my question is this. How do I circumvent what my past employer is doing to me and find employment? Should I contact jobs I did not get after a successful interview and tactfully ask why? Please help me, and I am becoming frustrated.
I don't think we have reason to think that your past manager is giving you a bad reference. It's been three months and you've applied to 20 jobs -- in this job market, that's not a particularly high number.
There are 6.3 unemployed workers to every one job opening, according to recent numbers from the Labor Department. Compare that to the 1.7 unemployed job-seekers per opening that we had back in 2007. What do those numbers mean? That a ton of great candidates aren't getting hired, even when they apply for jobs they're qualified for and even when they do well in interviews.
As I've written here before, hiring managers are rejecting a lot of great candidates right now, candidates we'd happily hire if we didn't have so many others just as qualified to choose from. That means it might not be you, and it might not be your past boss. It might be the math.
But if you're convinced you have a reference problem, you have a few different options (and you could do any or all of these):
1. Call your old manager and ask what kind of reference she's able to give you.
2. Have someone else call her and do a reference check on you. There are companies you can hire for that purpose, but it's cheaper to just have a friend do it for you for free.
3. Explain to prospective employers that you got along well with your manager for 30 years, but during your last four years there, you had a new manager who you didn't mesh well with. Explain that you can give tons of other references who can speak glowingly of you (including your 30-year manager, right?).
But I'm telling you -- 20 job applications and three months isn't that much in this economy, and that might be the real issue.