How to avoid the recruitment blacklist

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Barry Whelan explores the issue of restoring or overcoming a bad relationship with a current or past employer



19 October 2012

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BarryIn this tough employment market, it’s challenging enough to get a job, even with the right experience and a spotless employment record. So what happens if you left a company on bad terms, perhaps a previous reference isn’t as outstanding as you would like, you fell out with your last boss or you got caught telling a lie during an interview? Could that land you on a company’s do not recruit list, or blacklist? And if so, what can you do about it?

Ireland is a small place. To say that everybody knows everybody is an understatement when it comes to the retail and FMCG industry.

As a recruitment company, the last thing we want to do is place a dishonest candidate; we go out of our way to vet applications and reference check candidates. Our reputation is built on the candidates we place. When we meet candidates who find they are suddenly job seeking, we do take a view that there are two sides to every story. However, that only applies when a candidate is honest with us. Dishonesty about the ‘reason for leaving’ makes our job a lot harder when trying to find the truth.

The truth is that companies maintain records of employees who are not eligible for employment for a variety of reasons. This is not a list a jobseeker or indeed anyone wants to land on.

What could land you on the list?
The Boomerang – Obviously former company employees leaving under less than acceptable circumstances tend to end up ineligible for future employment. It never ceases to surprise me the amount of candidates that are oblivious to this and are only too delighted to apply to return to a former employer, who on the other hand, was only too delighted to see the back of them in the first place.
The Serial Applicant – When candidates apply to multiple positions they are not suitable for with the same company or indeed a mountain of applications to the same position, they might find their CV becoming blacklisted. Recruitment software filters applications so certain applications can be marked as spam.
Porky Pies – Applicants whose CVs tell conflicting stories about their skills, abilities, education, etc. It is one thing to re-write a CV, to add new skills and experience, experiment with a different layout or font, but to fabricate skills or to lie on a CV is a sure way to find yourself on the blacklist. I have seen this on numerous occasions over the years. My favourite example is when a candidate changed his name (by deed poll) but kept his CV unchanged.
The Rejected Candidate – Candidates who were interviewed previously and failed background or reference checks or indeed were unsuitable for a position or company culture may find themselves blacklisted from future employment.
Time Wasters – Applicants who gave such poor interviews that the time spent was considered a waste of time, or indeed the opposite, candidates who do a fantastic interview and are offered a job but decline, again, a big waste of time.
Word of mouth can wound

Underground references, off-the-record ones, can be equally damaging. People who know each other through professional associations, relationships between a company and a supplier, and small industries where everyone knows each other can be instrumental in causing further damage to a candidate. For instance, candidate A may have interviewed at company A and been blacklisted. Thanks to word of mouth, they’re now blacklisted at companies B, C, D and E as well.

Can you repair the damage?

If the former or prospective new employee has turned their life around, learned from their mistakes, has matured and can somehow demonstrate a virtually ‘new person’ is now asking for another chance, perhaps that second chance will be given – if the former employee can demonstrate they are not today the same person that left under less-than-favorable circumstances in the past.



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