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Author Topic: bad phone reference from an old co-teacher, looking for job  (Read 3877 times)

Offline pilferstarfish

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bad phone reference from an old co-teacher, looking for job
« on: November 05, 2014, 03:47:38 PM »
My recruiter just told me that when she called my old co-teacher from a school where I worked several years ago said I had a "bad attitude" and "I didn't complete my lesson plans," which is completely untrue as I worked diligently to complete them every day. We've had our differences and communication issues, but I thought I left the place on good terms. Additionally, she's given me positive phone references in the past including the one that got me my current job.

I'm currently in Korea and looking for a new position, and I have a solid reference from my current director with whom I have a great working relationship. However, since it's already on my resume and more schools will be calling her, I'm wondering what's the best way to proceed? Should I contact her in an attempt to straighten it out, or would that only make matters worse?

Offline AlivePoet

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Re: bad phone reference from an old co-teacher, looking for job
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2014, 05:06:39 PM »
My opinion....no. By the sounds of things, you haven't contacted her for several years. She might be in a rough spot in life right now and/or might feel like she's being used. Or who knows...but if you call to 'straighten it out' you're basically making it obvious that's the only reason you'd ever contact her again (I'm assuming you haven't maintained contact) and that you don't appreciate her remarks...do you see that ending well?

My advice, just be grateful that she gave you good references before and move on. Maybe send out a new batch of resumes without her as a reference.

Offline Chuckthebear

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Re: bad phone reference from an old co-teacher, looking for job
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2014, 05:17:06 PM »
You could call and thank her for her good review.   And not in a sarcastic way, then she might actually give positive reviews after.  Since you could plausibly deny you don't know hers were bad, (maybe?)

Offline pilferstarfish

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Re: bad phone reference from an old co-teacher, looking for job
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2014, 05:28:17 PM »
You could call and thank her for her good review.   And not in a sarcastic way, then she might actually give positive reviews after.  Since you could plausibly deny you don't know hers were bad, (maybe?)

That's an interesting way to go about it. Seems like it would be pretty effective, but she may think I'm messing with her.

Offline AlivePoet

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Re: bad phone reference from an old co-teacher, looking for job
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2014, 05:50:33 PM »
Did you call her when she gave you good reviews before? Think about it... unless she's an idiot she'll know what you're doing.

It seems like common sense to me that if something like this happens, it's better to just let it go. If you confront her she will lose face and resent you.

Offline seoulboundagain

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Re: bad phone reference from an old co-teacher, looking for job
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2014, 05:56:08 PM »
Call her and tell her you are going to sue her for defamation of character.  How come Korean employers don't call old jobs for references but we have to go through this. Especially in an country that is predominantly xenophobic and could easily hold grudges against us 'outsiders'  I have heard about this type of situation too many times for it to be a coincidence.  Plus the laws here clearly state that defamation that damages a persons livelihood is illegal. So if you don't get a job because of her negative remarks, she definitely accomplished that. If this ever happens to me, I will be getting a lawyer the next day.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2014, 05:59:02 PM by seoulboundagain »

Offline pilferstarfish

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Re: bad phone reference from an old co-teacher, looking for job
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2014, 08:13:47 PM »
Did you call her when she gave you good reviews before? Think about it... unless she's an idiot she'll know what you're doing.

It seems like common sense to me that if something like this happens, it's better to just let it go. If you confront her she will lose face and resent you.

I did call her when she gave me the first review, and asked her to say something positive about me. She said she already had, which is why I'm inclined to do it again.

However, since then I've contacted her once again in my request for a proof of employment and a written reference. She agreed to the first request, said "Koreans don't do that," to the second. I politely pressed her further and she said she was too busy and the recruiter was calling too much and then hung up the phone.

I think there's quite a bit of resentment there already, possibly about the last conversation?. I'm not sure how it could get any worse, except I definitely don't want to harass her about it. Also, isn't it more of a loss of face for her to talk smack about someone she hired?

Even though we had our differences, I'm confident that I did more good things than bad at that school, though I'm surprised and disappointed she's going to highlight the bad.

What do you think are the benefits of letting it go? It seems like it would be too much of a hit to my resume and loss of interview talking points on teaching experience. Is it possible to keep it on my resume and somehow prevent her from getting calls?
« Last Edit: November 05, 2014, 08:15:18 PM by pilferstarfish »

Offline AlivePoet

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Re: bad phone reference from an old co-teacher, looking for job
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2014, 09:06:09 PM »
Is she the only co-teacher that could give you a reference from that school? It sounds like she really doesn't want to be bothered anymore, unfortunately. You're right to be surprised and disappointed, but what can you do about it if you really don't want to harass her?

Sorry to hear about your situation. What former trusted supervisor/co-worker gives a bad review, I wonder, what does she have to gain from it unless there's some animosity/sour feelings on her part?

Offline sejongthefabulous

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Re: bad phone reference from an old co-teacher, looking for job
« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2014, 09:06:50 PM »
A good idea is to call all personal references before you start a fresh round of job applications just to make sure it's still cool to use them. Ignore those HR references where someone just looks in your portfolio are fine.

I think calling now is still a good idea. Don't mention she is saying bad things, just give her a heads up that you would like to continue using her as a reference and you are currently applying for new jobs. Worst that happens is she keeps doing what she is doing and you take her number off as a reference.

Offline pilferstarfish

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Re: bad phone reference from an old co-teacher, looking for job
« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2014, 09:54:20 PM »
Is she the only co-teacher that could give you a reference from that school? It sounds like she really doesn't want to be bothered anymore, unfortunately. You're right to be surprised and disappointed, but what can you do about it if you really don't want to harass her?

Sorry to hear about your situation. What former trusted supervisor/co-worker gives a bad review, I wonder, what does she have to gain from it unless there's some animosity/sour feelings on her part?

A good idea is to call all personal references before you start a fresh round of job applications just to make sure it's still cool to use them. Ignore those HR references where someone just looks in your portfolio are fine.

I think calling now is still a good idea. Don't mention she is saying bad things, just give her a heads up that you would like to continue using her as a reference and you are currently applying for new jobs. Worst that happens is she keeps doing what she is doing and you take her number off as a reference.

Thanks for the wisdom. Unfortunately she is the only one at the school to call. I will probably give her a very friendly, short and straight forward call asking her to give me a good phone reference. My main question is, if she refuses, is it possible to keep the school on my resume but not use her as a reference?

Offline oceancloud

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Re: bad phone reference from an old co-teacher, looking for job
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2014, 07:15:16 AM »
My recruiter just told me that when she called my old co-teacher from a school where I worked several years ago said I had a "bad attitude" and "I didn't complete my lesson plans," which is completely untrue as I worked diligently to complete them every day. We've had our differences and communication issues, but I thought I left the place on good terms. Additionally, she's given me positive phone references in the past including the one that got me my current job.

I'm currently in Korea and looking for a new position, and I have a solid reference from my current director with whom I have a great working relationship. However, since it's already on my resume and more schools will be calling her, I'm wondering what's the best way to proceed? Should I contact her in an attempt to straighten it out, or would that only make matters worse?

Maybe she was disappointed that you didn't show your gratitude well, so now she's like 퍽유.

Offline Hot6^

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Re: bad phone reference from an old co-teacher, looking for job
« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2014, 07:40:19 AM »
I have NEVER understood the point of reference letters etc...

Obviously I understand the concept of them. It gives a new employer a something to go off of...

However, in most countries it's ILLEGAL to say anything that could damage the potential for you to get hired by new employer.

So, if everyone follows the rules, they would ONLY be able to say nice things, negating the point of even calling.

Also, I never understood having to have multiple references from previous employers....

Let's say you are looking for a new job. The new job wants at least 2 references. OK. What if I have been working at my previous job for the last five years? Do they want me to try and trace back a reference from 6 years ago, at a company that I have worked at, and might not even have the same manager etc...?

Of course you are just using your old contacts for a reference. What are you suppose to do. Send them a gift every year to make them feel like they aren't being used?

This is why I have my previous employers write reference letters with a certain level of ambiguity. No date, and no mention like "I think bob would be great working for job xyz..." Then you can just make photos copies of the signed original and use it over and over without having jump through hoops etc...

If the employer doesn't what a copy, (I usually send it via email pdf) then tell them, you need the original for your own filing etc...
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Offline Mezoti97

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Re: bad phone reference from an old co-teacher, looking for job
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2014, 08:23:29 AM »
It seems like it would be too much of a hit to my resume and loss of interview talking points on teaching experience. Is it possible to keep it on my resume and somehow prevent her from getting calls?

Since you said you worked at that school with that co-teacher "several years ago," I'm surprised that a recruiter is actually calling her for a reference about you. In my personal experience, whenever I've applied for a new job in Korea, the potential employers and recruiters have only seemed to care about getting a reference from my most recent employer (i.e. the last school where I worked), and almost never bother to get a reference from any former employer earlier than that (i.e. any school where I used to work before my most recent/last school), so it's strange that they are actually bothering to contact your former co-teacher from several years ago for a reference about you. I've applied to many jobs in Korea over the years (I've been here for several years), and only once did someone call my co-teacher from my first public school; no one else bothered and only called/seemed to care about the most recent school where I used to work at the time.

Have you worked at any other school(s) since the aforementioned school with the co-teacher giving you a bad reference? If you have, I would advise focusing on those as your references, not this co-teacher from several years ago who apparently doesn't have many positive things to say about you anymore. Also, if you have worked at other schools, you could just take this school (where the co-teacher giving you a negative reference works) off your resume and leave it off. I've worked at several schools in Korea at this point, so I've left off a few and don't bother to include all of them on my resume anymore.

Also, no, it's not really possible to "prevent [your co-teacher] from getting calls" because it's very easy for people (i.e. potential employers and recruiters) to find the contact information of the school where that co-teacher still works and call her, even if you leave out the contact information. I listed one of my former schools on my resume a few years ago, but didn't want to use my then-co-teacher there as a reference, so I intentionally didn't provide contact information for that school/that co-teacher. However, since it was the most recent school where I had last worked, I found out the hard way that potential employers and recruiters only seemed to care about getting a reference about me from that school/that co-teacher -- so even though I didn't give them any contact info (i.e. phone number), they still managed to contact my then-co-teacher by calling my former school. When I realized they were doing that, I suspected that they just looked up the school phone number on Naver, which is very easy to find/do, especially for them.

Long story short, yeah, they can find the contact information of your former school/co-teacher very easily, so leaving out the phone number won't really do much. If they (potential employers and recruiters) really want to contact your former school/co-teacher, they can and will -- at least that's been my experience. I think your best bet for ensuring that no one else calls this former co-teacher of yours for a reference about you anymore is to just take that school off your resume altogether.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2014, 10:07:06 AM by Mezoti97 »

Offline pilferstarfish

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Re: bad phone reference from an old co-teacher, looking for job
« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2014, 02:30:52 AM »
It seems like it would be too much of a hit to my resume and loss of interview talking points on teaching experience. Is it possible to keep it on my resume and somehow prevent her from getting calls?


Have you worked at any other school(s) since the aforementioned school with the co-teacher giving you a bad reference? If you have, I would advise focusing on those as your references, not this co-teacher from several years ago who apparently doesn't have many positive things to say about you anymore. Also, if you have worked at other schools, you could just take this school (where the co-teacher giving you a negative reference works) off your resume and leave it off. I've worked at several schools in Korea at this point, so I've left off a few and don't bother to include all of them on my resume anymore.

Also, no, it's not really possible to "prevent [your co-teacher] from getting calls" because it's very easy for people (i.e. potential employers and recruiters) to find the contact information of the school where that co-teacher still works and call her, even if you leave out the contact information. I listed one of my former schools on my resume a few years ago, but didn't want to use my then-co-teacher there as a reference, so I intentionally didn't provide contact information for that school/that co-teacher. However, since it was the most recent school where I had last worked, I found out the hard way that potential employers and recruiters only seemed to care about getting a reference about me from that school/that co-teacher -- so even though I didn't give them any contact info (i.e. phone number), they still managed to contact my then-co-teacher by calling my former school. When I realized they were doing that, I suspected that they just looked up the school phone number on Naver, which is very easy to find/do, especially for them.

Long story short, yeah, they can find the contact information of your former school/co-teacher very easily, so leaving out the phone number won't really do much. If they (potential employers and recruiters) really want to contact your former school/co-teacher, they can and will -- at least that's been my experience. I think your best bet for ensuring that no one else calls this former co-teacher of yours for a reference about you anymore is to just take that school off your resume altogether.

Thanks for your earnest perspective. I indeed have worked at a hagwon since this public school with the bad co-teacher reference, with about half a year back home between contracts. Any prospective employer can call up my current reference and hear good things.

The public school is the number two on my resume, and my question is to leave it on or off. What are the chances of prospective employers taking the public school reference seriously into account, or even bothering to call them, if I have a much better, more up to date one from my most recent employer?

One recruiter has mixed feelings saying whether I should leave it on or off, but (surprise!) if I should leave it off there are some "great hagwons" out there. (I know that the recruiter is not BSing me on the reference.)

Offline Mezoti97

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Re: bad phone reference from an old co-teacher, looking for job
« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2014, 10:08:01 AM »
Thanks for your earnest perspective. I indeed have worked at a hagwon since this public school with the bad co-teacher reference, with about half a year back home between contracts. Any prospective employer can call up my current reference and hear good things.

The public school is the number two on my resume, and my question is to leave it on or off. What are the chances of prospective employers taking the public school reference seriously into account, or even bothering to call them, if I have a much better, more up to date one from my most recent employer?

One recruiter has mixed feelings saying whether I should leave it on or off, but (surprise!) if I should leave it off there are some "great hagwons" out there. (I know that the recruiter is not BSing me on the reference.)

Again, in my personal experience, I have found that potential employers and recruiters seem to only really care about getting a reference about me from my most recent employer/the most recent school where I last worked, and, with the exception of it happening only once, they never bothered to contact any of my former schools prior to my most recent school where I last worked and just didn't seem to care about getting a reference about me from any of my previous schools where I had worked before my most recent one.

However, since it sounds like you've only worked at two different schools in Korea (the public school where your former co-teacher is no longer giving a positive reference about you, and the hagwon where they would give a good reference about you), I can understand why you are hesitating to leave off your public school from your resume, since you would like potential employers and recruiters to know that you have more teaching experience in Korea beyond just your former hagwon.

As I stated in my previous post, though, I do think that the only way to kind of really "guarantee" that potential employers and recruiters won't be able to contact your former co-teacher at your former public school for a reference about you is to take that school off your resume and just leave it off (if you don't mention the name of the school, they don't really have a way to look up the school's contact information on Naver/the internet without knowing the name of the school). That's what I learned from my personal experience of noticing potential employers and recruiters contacting one of my former co-teachers whom I didn't want to use as a reference, but they easily found my then-school's phone number on Naver/the internet just because I included the name of the school on my resume (or at least that's what I assume had happened, based on the circumstances). Again, if you don't include the name of your school, they can't look it up on Naver/the internet to follow-up on a reference from your former co-teacher there about you.

It's ultimately up to you, obviously, but I think if you feel that your former public school co-teacher is hurting your chances of finding a new teaching position in Korea, then maybe it would be better to take that school off your resume and leave it out, so that she can't bad-mouth you to potential employers and recruiters anymore. Also, I do think it would be awkward and probably wouldn't do much good to try to contact your former public school co-teacher to try to level with her about the less-than-stellar reference she is giving you, so I wouldn't advise doing that (I never confronted my aforementioned co-teacher whom I didn't want to use as a reference but potential employers and recruiters were contacting anyway, since I knew it wouldn't do any good and that even if I had tried, no matter what I'd tell her, at the end of the day, I believe she still would have said whatever she wanted to about me to potential employers and recruiters, so trying to level with her seemed moot, thus I didn't bother as it seemed like a lost cause). Good luck.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2014, 04:18:47 PM by Mezoti97 »

Offline popeye2u

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Re: bad phone reference from an old co-teacher, looking for job
« Reply #15 on: November 07, 2014, 10:47:51 AM »
Have a Korean friend call and ask for your reference.  Never trust everything a recruiter tells you.  Compare both answers then decide if you need to drop that school from your resume.
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Offline Hot6^

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Re: bad phone reference from an old co-teacher, looking for job
« Reply #16 on: November 07, 2014, 12:41:44 PM »
Have a Korean friend call and ask for your reference.  Never trust everything a recruiter tells you.  Compare both answers then decide if you need to drop that school from your resume.

You should NEVER drop any major experience you have had on your CV/Resume.

Resume tip: (This thread seems to need some)

The bottom section of CV, it should list work experience. AT THE BOTTOM OF THAT.

Have a simple line "References available upon request."

They ask for references, give them the good ones, you don't need to give all of them.
What you put into Korea, is what you will get out of Korea; it will not spoon feed you.