For those of you who have a chequered work history you need to front up to the fact that some of your referees may not be able to say good things about you. The question is at what point will you be honest during the interview process? It does not help your cause if your excellent acting performance gets you to the point of reference checking, and then the reference check does not confirm all you have said and written.
Most employers are understanding and accept that life is not always fair and we all make mistakes. One or two hiccups on life’s highway may be accepted, but it should not be a trend. If you know what areas you are likely to get a poor reference, then address that specific point during the interview process and give reasons why you have changed, or why in this particular role it will not be a problem. If you have trouble getting out of bed at 4.00am there is a good reason to take a job starting later in the day.
In order to break the trend of poor references take a job you can stick in for a couple of years. It is important to have a past employer who can speak positively on your behalf.
If you have personal problems keep your employer informed, especially if they are impacting your work performance. In the event of them acting as a referee they will be able to speak more honestly of your performance. This is particularly important if your personal situation has now changed.
If you feel tempted to have a friend act as a referee or sit in the background and provide information as the reference is being given, think again. The reference checking process is such that it picks up consistencies and inconsistencies. The person doing the reference check will soon pick up the deception and any respect you had earned will be significantly depleted.
You need to take responsibility for your own performance. You are accountable for your actions, or lack of action. If you need to turn over a new leaf and improve your work performance, then you are probably better off finding an employer who will accept your affirmations at face value and give you a chance. Recruitment agencies must guarantee people placed in jobs; therefore they cannot afford to take the risk on a candidate with a poor work performance record or a candidate who can not provide positive referees.