References about former employees – What should recommendations include

In a previous article, we were talking about a candidate’s professional background check and now the time has come to approach the topic of references that an organization gives about a former employee.

When a person leaves an organization, whatever the reason might be, the leadership must decide what things they had to say about him if a potential employer calls for references. If the former employee left the company in good conditions, if he resigned and left the organization on its own initiative, things are simple. In a competitive labor market, good recommendations from a former employer can be a very useful aid.

What kind of information companies can offer about former employees

There are companies that have a very strict policy regarding references offered by other employers about former employees. The managers may be prohibited to disclose more than basic information such as confirming that the person worked there and details such as those related to the period that he worked for them.

So, in some companies the management can’t provide details about the main responsibilities of a former employee, about how he interacted with former colleagues, whether he was coming late to work or if he was often missing. In this case, the best solution would be writing a letter of recommendation in advance, which will be provided to the employee when he leaves the company.

The person who provides references about a former employee should be one who knows him well enough, who worked closely with him, so that he can offer the right information. Also, this information must be relevant to the job description towards which the former employee wants to move so that a future employer will be able to realize if the candidate’s previous experience fits with the open position.

What happens if we talk about an employee that was fired

If for an employee who left the company in good conditions is relatively simple to provide references, things get complicated when the person who requires that recommendation is one who was fired. The company can reach an agreement with the former employee in terms of providing information on why he left the company, in case a future employer will ask for references in regards to this.

Equally, an employee who didn’t leave a company in good conditions must be aware that he might not be receiving good references from his former employer. When this happens, things could even reach to suing the company. Of course, there are rare cases when it happens, but it’s good to avoid such situations.

When we are talking about a person who has been fired or who had to leave the organization due to an inappropriate behavior, it would be better to provide less complex references about him and limiting them to the fact of giving details about the period when he worked there, about the department or the main tasks from the job.

Therefore, giving references is important both for the former employee, who might be looking for new professional opportunities, and for a prospective employer, because for him is relevant to have a confirmation of the experience that is found in the resume.


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