In this tough labor 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 or you got caught in a lie during an interview? Could that land you on a company’s no-hire list, or blacklist?
According to Fred Cooper, managing partner at Compass HR Consulting, “In the case of labor-relations law, it is unfair labor practice to discriminate against — blacklist — employees who encourage or discourage acts of support for a labor organization, and one does not want the Department of Labor investigating an allegation of an unfair labor practice.”
But that doesn’t mean recruitment firms or companies don’t have some form of a do-not-hire list. “Most employers maintain records of employees that are not eligible for rehire,” says John Millikin, clinical professor of management at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business and former vice president of human resources at Motorola. “This is usually because they have been terminated for cause. These would be difficult to appeal unless there were new facts that were not evident at the time the adverse action was taken.”
What could land you on the list
Cooper says a variety of infringements could land someone on an informal no-hire list, including:
- Former employees leaving under less than acceptable circumstances.
- Job seekers who have applied numerous times to the same company, but for different jobs and using résumés that tell conflicting stories about their skills, abilities, education, etc.
- Candidates who were interviewed previously and failed background or reference checks.
- Applicants who gave such poor interviews that the time spent was considered a waste.
Word of mouth can wound
Judi Perkins, career coach and founder of Find the Perfect Job, says that it’s also possible to get on a no-hire list of a company you haven’t worked at or applied to. “Underground references, as I call them — off-the-record ones — can be equally damaging,” Perkins says. “People who know each other through professional associations, relationships between a company and a vendor, 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?
“With the current state of the economy and the number of potential applicants for each vacancy, unless it is a ‘low inventory/high demand’ type of job needing to be filled, and a former employee has the experience, education, training and skills needed, employers can be quite selective in deciding who to interview, and ultimately, who gets a company ID badge,” Cooper says.
Yet he says in some circumstances you can get a second chance. “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 … the former employee can demonstrate they are not today the same person that left under less-than-favorable circumstances yesterday.”