Looking for new job opportunities can be fun until one begins to fill out the job application. There are many intimidating questions one may find on their job application, and one of them may be, “Can we contact your previous employer?” There can be different reasons why a person may not want their prospective employer to contact their previous employer, and most prospective employers understand that. Although it can seem intimidating, it is best, to be honest, and upfront while answering the question. So, here are the Valid Reasons To Not Contact A Previous Employer.
A person may leave their job for various reasons, some of them being personal issues such as a toxic work environment, toxic bosses, health issues, and so on. While it is absolutely brave and okay to leave a toxic job, a person may hesitate to state the truth on the job application out of fear of being misunderstood and rejected.
A few reasons are why a person may leave a job and why they should not feel like they did the wrong thing.
The reasons why a person leave a job
Toxic Work Environment
There are so many jobs with an extremely toxic work environment. Employees are made to work for longer hours without receiving any consideration for their health or finances. The workplace environment gets encouraged to be toxic and competitive. Some organizations even fire their employees as they like, leaving no meaning to job security. Not everyone has the mental strength to survive in such an environment for a long time. They should quit maintaining both their physical and mental health. Continuing to work in a toxic environment does not count as bravery or strength. Leaving it does.
Let’s face it – there are many toxic bosses out there that do not follow professionalism in any way. Instead, they overwork a person they do not like with very little pay. Most times, they follow partiality among different employees, showing favor to the ones that please them and disfavor to the ones that do not. A person who minds their own business and does not sugarcoat their words in front of their toxic boss may find it extremely difficult to survive in the organization. It is best to look for other opportunities and leave the current organization as quickly as possible in situations like this.
One can never be too sure about their health conditions. As a result, a person can face unforeseen health issues. While it may be somewhat depressing for the person since they will not work like before, it is okay for them to take a break and focus on receiving treatment and getting better. If willing, they can resume work in the same or different organization once they recover. While chances are slim for the current organization to rehire them, they can always look for opportunities elsewhere as long as they continue to possess the skills required for the particular job.
Everyone has different plans for their life and career. It is a daily task to work on oneself and discovers new skills and potential as much as possible, and then work to hone the skills to build a strong career. It is perfectly okay for a person to switch careers if they see more potential in the latter. What matters is what they do in the long run. If a career switch promises greater satisfaction and growth, then one should not let the opportunity slip. There is absolutely no reason to feel guilty about leaving the previous job or organization. On the contrary, in most situations, bosses would appreciate that their employee is seeking to grow further in their career.
These are a few reasons why a person may leave an organization and carry some sort of guilt with them, although they do not have to.
Now, coming back to whether one should answer “Yes” or “No” to “Can we contact your previous employer?” It is completely up to them to answer whatever they want. It is perfectly okay to answer “No” with the reason stated along. Sometimes, a person may even choose to ignore the question entirely.
Although most bosses from previous organizations will put in a good word for their ex-employees, one can never be too sure, especially if they did not leave the organization on good terms. Toxic ex-bosses would not hesitate to speak badly about an ex-employee. Yes, it is true. Unfortunately, many out there still do not care about professionalism, causing people to leave their organization eventually.
So, why is it best for a prospective employer not to contact a previous employer?
A few valid reasons are discussed below that can help a person gain confidence, to be honest to their prospective employer when faced with this question.
Suppose a person had to leave an organization because of their toxic boss. In that case, there are high chances that they might receive negative feedback if the boss receives a call for reference. Although the feedback may be false, it can leave a negative impression on the prospective employer, making the person lose a good opportunity. Therefore, it is best, to be honest with the prospective employer in situations like this and tell them why they should not contact a particular previous employer.
Previous Health Issues
Although most ex-employers will not state why an employee left the organization and will only talk about their skills, there is still a chance that some may mention the health issues. A prospective employer might take the health issue as a warning and assume that it may hamper the person’s work, thereby not shortlisting them.
If the person is still facing certain issues, they should let the prospective employer know about them. But if they have recovered, they should let the prospective employer know right at the beginning so that they can be aware of what’s going on and not take anything as a bad surprise.
There are situations where a person may not be very good at a particular job due to inexperience. In several cases, they do not even find room to grow and improve, causing them to leave the organization and hone their skills. In such situations, although the person has improved highly, the prospective employer may receive negative feedback from the previous employer, consequently sowing doubt in their mind. Therefore, it would be best, to be honest with the prospective employer about their situation and why they think the previous employer should not be contacted.
The Organization Does Not Exist Anymore
Sometimes, the organization a person worked for previously may not exist anymore due to various reasons. There would be no point in contacting the previous employer in such cases, which the person can convey to their prospective employer.
The Employer Switched Organizations
A person’s previous employer can switch organizations. Again, in this case, there would hardly be any point to contact the previous employer. The person should inform their prospective employer regarding this at the earliest.
In case of a career switch, there would be no reason for a prospective employer to contact a previous employer since the required skills would be completely different for the job. Unless, of course, they want to know about the person’s loyalty and diligence toward their work. This is an extremely valid reason not to contact a previous employer.
Although absconding can negatively impact any prospective employer, there can be many reasons why a person may choose this option. Suppose they have the necessary skills the prospective employer needs. In that case, they can prove that they will not commit the same mistake in the new organization. They may ask the prospective employer not to contact their previous employer since there are high chances that they might only receive negative feedback.
The above reasons are valid enough not to contact a previous employer. Most employers, however, are professional and do not bad-mouth an ex-employee. One will be surprised to find out that their previous boss, who was not on the best terms, actually spoke well of them when they received a call for reference. Organizations care about their reputation and hold themselves back from being negative in any way possible. As a result, one should not worry about this.
Do Organizations Contact Previous Employers?
Organizations that pose this question usually do not contact the previous employer even if a person answers “Yes.” This is because they already have too much on their plates, and most of the time, this question is asked just to test a person and for the background verification process.
Even so, a person should be honest to a prospective employer to avoid future complications if they happen to find out about their past job situations. Prospective employers usually try to understand a person’s situation and do not contact their previous employer. With sufficient evidence, it is enough to trust the person and carry on with the hiring process without questioning further on the previous organization or employer.
This is not a rare situation, so organizations are becoming more considerate toward their prospective employees. If this happened earlier, it might have been a little difficult to convince a prospective employer. However, this is not the case anymore.
Honesty is appreciated almost everywhere. Organizations just need a skillful and diligent employee who can prove to be loyal and contribute to the growth and success of the organization.
Just Go For It!
So, if you are looking for a job and stressing over this one simple question, the above points should help you. Do not hesitate to be honest. Also, we are not a part of the older generation, so we are pretty safe regarding job and career switches. What is the worst that can happen anyway, besides you not getting that one job? There are so many opportunities out there for you to explore. Do not stop your job hunting. Stay positive and continue to do what you have to do.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I simply dodge the question?
While most companies will not even notice the blank space, it would be better if you could just be honest about your answer. But if it is too stressful for you, then you may choose to leave it blank.
- What if they do not hire me if I answer “No”?
It would be advisable to specify why you do not want them to contact your previous employer. Then, in most cases, the prospective employer will understand your situation instead of taking your reason negatively.
- What if my prospective employer thinks I am still sick?
Make sure to submit your latest medical report while informing your prospective employer about your past health issues and that you have recovered now. There will not be any reason for them to doubt you if you carry evidence with you.
- How can I be sure that a previous employer will not give negative feedback?
If you are skeptical about your previous employer’s response, even if you were not on bad terms, then you can try calling them through a friend’s number and pretend to ask for a reference. You will know their response this way and then decide your answer on the job application.
- What if they contact my previous employer anyway?
Most organizations do not contact previous employers even if a person answers “Yes” to the question. This question is asked just for the background verification process. If you are honest with your prospective employer from the start, they will not contact your previous employer. Although chances are slim, if they do contact them, then it’s still okay. You can always look for better opportunities.