Hiring Blacklists: Do they exist?

July 9th, 2012

Mention the word “blacklist,” and you might conjure up memories from a U.S. history class, of a time in the 1950s where government workers, celebrities and ordinary people were blacklisted: tainted with a bad reputation and actively excluded from working in their chosen profession and passed over for advancement opportunities.

Thankfully, we have moved beyond that sad chapter of history, but that doesn’t mean that “blacklisting” has disappeared. Whether you have left a position because of a poor relationship with a supervisor or co-workers, or were asked to leave a position because of poor performance, your past may continue to haunt you as you search for a new position.

Employers do keep records of former employees, and make particular notes of who is not eligible to be rehired. Ordinarily, as you leave a position, an exit interview with human resources personnel will reveal whether or not you would be considered for a future opening. As for formal reference checks, HR offices will generally only reveal dates employed, salary information, job title and duties. They may also reveal if asked whether you are eligible for rehire.

What is critical to remember is that your reputation is the one thing that you can’t buy, you can’t steal, and it’s tough to get back once you’ve lost it. Your reputation matters, so when you are dealing with your career – in a job, in a volunteer position, or in any other capacity – don’t burn bridges. That is the surest way to lose face and to put holes in the armor of your reputation. Leaving a position in a blaze of glory might sound appealing, but it will damage your reputation – in some cases, permanently. There is little question in cases like this that a file with your name on it will end up with “Not Eligible For Rehire” stamped on the front.

The informal references – ones informed by vendor relationships, associations through professional organizations, and other personal contact – are the ones that you have no control over, and might not ever hear about. While no actual list is involved, your name may be passed over in favor of people who are equal to you in skill and experience, but not sullied by poor opinions.

Are you willing to work to overcome a damaged reputation? The answer for moving past a space on an informal “blacklist” ultimately depends on you, and your willingness to acknowledge past mistakes and demonstrate what you have learned. It may mean switching to a new industry with a new set of professional contacts. It may mean retraining for a new type of job that would keep you in your industry. It may mean changing geographic locations, opening yourself up to a network well outside your current circle.

Olympic Staffing works with qualified candidates who may have had bad employment experiences in the past. We can assist in finding the right position to fit your skills and knowledge.