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Job Skills Can a bad reference affect my future?

  1. Jan 20, 2017 #1
    I work part time at my school. I just asked to change my schedule at work because it was affecting my school stuff, and my boss kinda freaked out. He is the type that takes things very personally and was extremely offended when I requested to change my schedule. I have been a very good employee, having published several academic papers on the school's website through my job. He also just recently wrote an 8 page work profile about how good of an employee I am, and I have the physical copy of it.

    I know that realistically, changing my schedule isn't a big deal (at least not enough to justify him giving one of his best employees a bad recommendation), but I'm worried that this might hurt me in the future. I know he won't let this go, and I'm worried that if a future job calls him, that he is going to put in a bad word.

    I am currently looking to work in either engineering or academia after I finish school.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 20, 2017 #2


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    Did he freak out because you told him you're changing your schedule because it's having an impact on your studies (something he probably doesn't want either), and not because you asked to change hours? What do you define as freak out, anyway?

    Also, are you sure you're a good employee? Most of the time people inflate their self worth (i.e. saying you're one of his best employees) on the job. Anyway, the bar to get a bad recommendation in my experience is pretty high. Even if they don't like you, it's doubtful they'd give you a bad recommendation should a future employer call and ask (they won't, especially since you'll be an entry level employee when you graduate.)

    As an aside, if your job is negatively impacting your studies, you might think twice about leaving said job or reevaluating your priorities.
  4. Jan 20, 2017 #3
    He pretty much just gave me a huge lecture about how i'm going to ruin my career if I keep bailing on commitments. He said that me changing my schedule is going to affect his reputation because he has to inform one of the other departments that they do not have someone that can work at that specific time anymore because I changed my schedule.

    The only commitments I've ever backed out on that he could mention were when I changed my schedule a year ago (we get to pick a new schedule every semester, and I submitted mine, but then a few days later had to change it because I decided to take summer classes. This was 3 or 4 weeks before the schedule went into effect.). And when I couldn't go to my boss's cookout because my girlfriend got into a car accident and I needed time to study for finals. He said that he felt extremely disrespected that I didn't go to his cookout and that he has been worrying about me ever since.

    And I feel that I am a good employee. My boss created a work profile for me and it's literally just pages of him bragging about me.
  5. Jan 20, 2017 #4


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    It's nice when all your references give glowing reports, but unfortunately not every boss is reasonable, and not every employment situation ends well.

    And sure, it can impede you. I agree with Student100 though that it's quite rare for someone to actually give a bad reference. Most people will simply tell you to find someone else if they don't feel comfortable recommending you for another position.

    I've done a fair amount of reference checking at this point in my career. For what its worth, I find I'm not necessarily looking for a "glowing" review. I want to hear an honest evaluation including faults, struggles and room for growth.

    It's also rare to rely on a single reference. Most places will want to talk to two or three if they're going to hire you for a permanent position.

    With regard to the specifics, a schedule change is a schedule change. Anyone who works with undergraduate students on a regular basis should know that they need flexible hours. But even in that context, flexibility has its limits.
    It sounds like he made a commitment based on your commitment. And perhaps this isn't the first time he's been burned. In that context it doesn't seem unreasonable for him to be upset.

    It strikes me as odd that an employer would feel disrespected that an employee didn't show up to a social function - in the context of North American culture anyway. I could understand if he felt disappointed. Hmmm - how long was this cookout that in its place you had time to both study for finals and tend to your girlfriend's accident? Perhaps he felt he wasn't hearing the whole truth. That's reasonable grounds for feeling disrespected.
  6. Jan 21, 2017 #5
    I understand why he is upset, but as you said, I am an undergraduate student, and quite honestly, I'm still trying to figure out what schedules do and do not work for me. I know this puts him in a bad position, but not everything can go exactly as planned all of the time. While I do understand him getting upset, I don't think it should have been as bad as it was, and I at least expected him to understand the situation. Instead, he just went off about how he didn't think I was sorry and how I didn't understand how bad this is for the college.

    With regards to the cookout, I get the feeling that he is the type that takes everything personally. I sent him a long email explaining why I couldn't go, and that I was sorry, and all he emailed back was "I got your message". The cookout was about 4 hours long and was scheduled 2 days before I had 2 finals. I felt that I really needed that extra time to study.
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