The biggest and most recent mistake I’ve made in my career was not having a strong work relationship with my boss. I was the hi-and-bye, clock-in-on-time, leave-on-time employee and like most people experience during their career, I couldn’t stand my boss. Unfortunately for me, I’m almost positive she knew it. But at that time, being young and dumb, I could care less what she knew. Looking back, I should have cared because it all came back to bite me when my dream job requested her as a reference.
I applied for this amazing company. The job was perfect, the hours were perfect, the commute was great, and the salary was exactly what I was looking for. I was excited when a recruiter finally called me for an interview.
I prepped for the next couple days, went over tough interview questions I thought they might ask, and picked out my outfit. When the day of my interview came around, all my preparation paid off.
The recruiter called me and said those glorious words “we’d like to move forward with you”. I was hype. I finally made it!
Then he said “just one last step…we need three most recent supervisors as references”.
Why this was a huge problem:
Well, I didn’t like one of my supervisors. Her management style, the way she treated people, and her overall demeanor drove me crazy. I vented to coworkers about her and eventually when I left that job, I left abruptly with less than two weeks notice. Now, I did my job and wasn’t the type to bend rules but we just didn’t have a healthy work relationship. I couldn’t be sure she would even pick up the phone for a recruiter wanting a reference for me.
So what happened:
I decided not to give her name. I thought about it for hours and ultimately not asking her to be a reference was better than having her be a bad reference. And I’m sure you can guess what happened – I didn’t get the job.
How it made me feel to lose out on a good job, you ask?
I was pissed! I was mad at myself for not handling things better with her. I should have had positive interactions with her because in the end it didn’t hurt her, it hurt me. Not having a great work relationship with my boss taught me a valuable lesson.
The most important thing I learned is to never let temporary feelings create permanent problems. I’ll never feel comfortable using her as a reference and this will most likely continue to hurt me in my career but what I can do is make sure that I always strive for an amazing work relationship with my boss.
Struggling in your current work environment because of your boss? Take a look at 4 Ways to Stay Positive at a Job You Hate.