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Poor performance review and negative reference

  • 29-09-2022 6:51pm
    Registered Users Posts: 19

    I'm working a sales job right now that was supposed to just tie me over for a couple of months to my next place of employment. For a few reasons, I have not been giving this current job all that it demands and my recent performance review has absolutely reflected that. My name is now being called on this civil service panel, and while I want this next job because I'm actually interested in the area, I'm afraid my negative reference from my current employer is going to prevent this from happening.

    I never thought I would be so unmotivated in a job but I just walk into it into every day with a sense of dread. I accept that I've underperformed and that is ultimately on me and I can only blame myself for that. I never saw my my current role as a long term one but I feel like the irony is catching up with me because I may have to stick with it if i don't get this next gig.

    My one hope is that my past references from jobs that I've worked years at are actually good and from people I used to work close with. Can anyone tell me how likely it is a prospective employer in the civil service is to dismiss me at the final stage of the clearance process because of underperformance? I think it's ran by the Public Appointments Service (PAS).

    Thanks guys.



  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    Do you need a reference from your current role? Is perfectly justifiable to not provide a reference from your current role as you “don’t want to inform your current employer you are looking elsewhere”. Also a reference from a place you have only worked a couple of months would not carry much weight assuming you have stronger references prior to this.

    References are generally tricky for an employer anyway. Most companies officially will give the “x worked here from date a to date b” as expanding on that will potentially leave them open to challenge, both in the case where there is a negative reference, but also in giving a positive reference to someone who subsequently causes issues in a new role. Also, a personal reference from someone within the company does not need to be from your manager. If a reference is insisted on from your current employer, is there someone else of standing within the company who you could nominate? Again, with justification that you don’t want to let your current manager know your are actively looking for a new role as to do so may impact negatively on your current role if you are ultimately unsuccessful.

    There is also the potential that your current manager could give you a glowing reference. Is far easier for them to enable the under performing employee to get a job elsewhere than to go through the painful process of managing them out

  • Registered Users Posts: 19 bjarbnickixo

    Yes, I checked and apparently the Public Appointments Service (recruiters for the civil service) require reference from the current employer. They cannot offer you a position without one. It is the last stage in the clearance process, preceded by a series of checks, i.e., garda clearance, university transcript results, etc.

    I agree that not having worked there long that perhaps it may at least be viewed in conjunction with other work references. However, I truly do not know that for a fact and I do not know how PAS operates. It's interesting you say that some employers are hesitant to give out references in that way. I never knew that. In my performance review they did indicate good character and that I, at the very least, attempted tasks.

    Unfortunately I have only really worked with my own section. There may be 1 person outside of my area who I am on very good terms with who may accept the reference duty, but i only worked with them a week on a project. You make a good point about my manager.

    It would not be completely outside the scope of reality for my manager to vouch for me, however maybe a chat with them prior to when the time comes could be beneficial. I do not want to reveal anything too early in case it becomes a case of office politics and this getting out before I want it to.

  • Registered Users Posts: 89 ✭✭triddles

    Easiest out in the world is "my company does not provide references for legal reasons , they will supply dates of employment". Ive worked in banks , insurance firms , some will only offer dates of employment.

  • Registered Users Posts: 25,839 ✭✭✭✭Mrs OBumble

    PAS won't hire you, if that's all you can offer.

  • Registered Users Posts: 89 ✭✭triddles

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  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 24,651 Mod ✭✭✭✭CramCycle

    Incorrect, you just submit the letter stating A worked from Date X to Date Y, signed by the company.

    For the OP, do you have any friends in the company who will write you a personal reference? eg I am Daves manager, he was great, signed Tom. One of the lads who worked for me got one from me and he is still employed in the civil service years later.

  • Registered Users Posts: 86 ✭✭suilegorma

    Think of it this way. If you are leaving anyway your boss might be happy just to give the standard reference as it's no skin off their nose and it means they can rehire for the role instead of trying to motivate someone whose heart isn't really in it. If it's the sort of workplace you feel dread going into anyway I'd imagine turnover is high and it wouldn't be uncommon people using it as a stop gap until they found something they are more suited to.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    a confirmation of your service will suffice for PAS

  • Registered Users Posts: 25,839 ✭✭✭✭Mrs OBumble

    I can name two people who were told by PAS that this was not sufficient, they needed to.produce an actual written reference.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,657 ✭✭✭notAMember

    Why do you believe there will be a negative reference? This is exceptionally rare, and I don't think I've ever seen a negative reference in writing as there are legal ramifications. A written reference will usually be confirming the dates of employment and the role.

    Are you assuming there will be a negative reference based only on the performance review?

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  • Registered Users Posts: 10,560 ✭✭✭✭Jim_Hodge

    Way overthinking all this. They will give a reference. It may not be a gushing or effusive as it could be but it will not be a negative reference. It'll be bland and accurate as to your employment there. Relax.

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 24,651 Mod ✭✭✭✭CramCycle

    Sorry you misunderstood me, this is what most companies supply as a reference. It states person A has worked here from this date to this date. Maybe one or two filler lines that day nothing. This is incredibly common for various legal reasons. I know people where this has been accepted.

    As others have said, they risk legal comeback if the OP loses a job due to the reference. You'd have to be an idiot to give a negative one nowadays, certainly on the record anyway.

    I also know several companies who ask for a phone number as well as a written reference for this reason.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,453 ✭✭✭FishOnABike

    PAS may look for a company email address and phone number for any references you give. They did when I applied for a position through PAS.

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 24,651 Mod ✭✭✭✭CramCycle

    Well that makes sense to stop you just having a mate give a reference. I gave references for ex employees who I knew were good and in fact was sad to see go, others I just referred them to the secretary and company policy that we don't give personal references. Guinness are the only ones who actually followed up with me, to have an informal chat. I told them the truth, I was annoyed we had our budget tightened as they were a great worker and if I had the money I'd hold onto them. Another co worker whose lab was closing went for a CS job, and he got a reference as part of his leaving package. Boss of 20 years just said, no, we wouldn't re hire him as the lab has closed and his skills were not needed anywhere else when he was rang. He did not get the job.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,992 ✭✭✭skallywag

    Very true, a negative written reference is very rare, in fact I think I have never seen one.

    As you state though, it is quite common to request a short phone call with a former supervisor, etc.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,937 ✭✭✭DoctorEdgeWild

    Is it too late to perform better for your current company so that at least you 'go out' on a high? Memories are short sometimes and if you are still there for 3/4 weeks then you could put the effort in so that your reference may be more favourable if required?

    When a new employer contacts me for a reference, I would VERY rarely give anything other than positive, and if I were genuinely negative about someone, I would just confirm they worked for us for X dates and leave it at that.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,351 ✭✭✭tinytobe

    Negative references are only given verbally, one HR to another HR, if they know each other.

    Anything in writing, is subject to possible legal issues, if it's deemed negative.

    Remember, HR is also there to avoid any legal issues, any former employees might have against the company.

  • Registered Users Posts: 25,839 ✭✭✭✭Mrs OBumble

    Negative reference can also be give from one manager to another, verbally or even without anything being said, eg

    "would you hire XYZ again?"

    Response: silence.

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,451 ✭✭✭✭mariaalice

    It would be a disciplinary offense to give a verbal reference without going through HR or informing HR that you have been approached as a contact in most organisations. My husband has given verbal references and is very careful.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,186 ✭✭✭I am me123


    Sorry to hijack the thread.

    Anyone know how to approach a current employer about providing a reference? How would you phrase such a request?

    Thank you.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 10,560 ✭✭✭✭Jim_Hodge

    Just formally or informally ask "could you please give me a reference as I'm....." It's quite normal and far from unusual.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,203 ✭✭✭bobbysands81

    The only reference you’ll ever get from the Civil Service themselves is along those lines.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,992 ✭✭✭skallywag

    You can quite easily get the message across without giving a formal reference, even verbally.

    I have been called umpteen times from potential new employers for team members who have reported to me in the past. In nearly every case the last question will be 'would you hire this person again' to which I give a simple yes or no answer, and leave it at that with no further elaboration. HR in my own organization (which is very large, and has a very large HR dept) are not involved at all. To be honest I would say that 95% of the time I am singing the ex employee's praises. That said, if I genuinely would not hire someone again then I will not hesitate to answer no to the final question.

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,451 ✭✭✭✭mariaalice

    Does HR know you are doing this? because there is a fine line between a personal reference and a reference from you in your role as team lead. I presume you make it absolutely clear this is a personal reference and if they want a work reference they should go through HR. Companies are very careful about not getting themselves into a position where they will be held responsible for incorrect information. That is why it is often a disciplinary offense to give a reference without going through HR.

    Post edited by mariaalice on

  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators Posts: 10,148 Mod ✭✭✭✭Jim2007

    Exactly this. Large companies have very strict policies on who can speak on behalf of the company and once you stray into the area of taking such calls on the company phones, making comments on peoples performance or would you hire someone again and it is no longer a personal reference.

    All it takes someone back when you are not around and it could very easily get up send up the line.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,186 ✭✭✭I am me123

    Good point haha. Thank you.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,992 ✭✭✭skallywag

    HR have no involvement at all. For the majority of people I speak on behalf of it is irrelevant anyway since they worked with me in a different company than the one which I am currently at.

    Would HR be peeved if I speak about ex employees from my current company? I guess they may be, and perhaps I will get my hands slapped in the future at some point, who knows. Until that happens though it is not going to put me off speaking up for decent people who I have worked with in the past, or being quite short when it comes to someone who is to be avoided, the latter being much less frequent.

    I myself would not hire someone without having a similar conversation, and I know quite a few others with a similar mentality.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    And I never had to, for PAS, as large multinational did not provide references outside dates of service.

  • Registered Users Posts: 25,839 ✭✭✭✭Mrs OBumble

    Same as that .

    HR will literally never know. Real references never go on paper.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 330 ✭✭cezanne

    if you have a friend in that work place give his number & name as a reference also get some headed paper before you leave, write your own reference and sign a colleagues name who has left. There are loads of ways around this you just have to be cunning & calculating,. Middle managers are spiteful little small men so dont give a manager who couldnt motivate you the chance to **** you over. Be bold set up your references & play the game its just a slave market anyway and some slaves do lateral thinking better than others. Think outside the box why should a company who did **** all to embrace and encourage you have any say in your chance to improve somewhere else. Be devious . Good luck it worked for me on several occasions but then i am a risk taker and actually took pleasure in the duplicity !