Question: I have been working as an independent contractor for a large Fortune 500 multi-national staffing agency / consulting firm for the past few years. Yet I have been getting the very strong impression that this present employer has been sabotaging my efforts to procure full-time offers outside of the companies that they work with, who they bill me out to.

I received possible confirmation of my suspicions just two months ago. I understand that they want to keep me working for them, as they make lots of money off of me working on long-term contracts for their business partners.

How can I deal with this? Should I go so far as to hire a Private Investigator, to see how the staff at my local branch handles calls from recruiters asking about my work history?

Thanks for any suggestions.

Charlie
Cincinnati, Ohio

Answer: There are three ways I have seen clients deal successfully with your predicament.

First, some of my clients have used the services of “reference checking” companies they have found on the internet who, for a fee, do “reference checking” to see what employers were saying about them. I can’t recommend one to you, but I can tell you that if you type “job reference check” into your search engine, many will come up.

Second, some of my clients have had two or three of their friends, or friends of their friends, call up their employers – or even sometimes their bosses – to ask “Would you hire this person again?” While it lets your boss know you are out there looking, it may solve the kind of problem you are afraid you are facing. One client went so far as to tape record what was being said to her, and in this way won a very large settlement against her employer, and her “saboteur” was fired.

[If you consider taping a telephone call, you must first determine whether the recording of telephone calls is legal in your state. In New York it is legal, so long as at least one of the participants in the call is aware it is being taped. Check, first, about your own state’s laws.]

Third, some of my clients have written to their employer’s senior management, and said, in effect, “I am concerned that my applications for new, full-time jobs elsewhere are being sabotaged when my references are being checked. Of course, this would be wrong. Might you please remind people in my branch office that this would be wrong, and perhaps even unlawful? I would very much appreciate that.”

Some of my clients have done all three of the above.

If any of our readers have had success with other ways of dealing with “reference sabotage,” I invite them to please write in and share your stories. I will be sure to share them with our readers.

Hope one or more of these work for you. Please write back to let me, and our readers, know both what you did, and how things went.

Best, Al Sklover

P.S.: We offer a Model Letter to deal with this precise problem. It is our Model Letter to Your Former HR, Managers and Colleagues to Discourage Negative References. “What to Say, and How to Say It.”™ To obtain your copy, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!

© 2010 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.