Bad Reputation From Not Responding To Job Offers

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a bad reputation: What do I do now to repair it?

What do I do if I am being blackballed? I am a very competent HR specialist/Recruiter, but I went through a bad time personally. I was depressed and became indecisive. Even though I had many, many amazing job offers, I was not sure about the fit at the time of being depressed, so I procrastinated in making decisions on several job offers.

Now I feel that I am being blackballed in my profession. Even though I am a very competent and intelligent, hard working professional, was written up in magazines for my excellent work, I will admit that I did, for a short time, fall into a depression.

I lost my job for the first time due to the economy and that took a tremendous toll on my self confidence. Then I also questioned my career path as there were not any Recruiting and HR jobs for some time during this time. Even so, I was receiving offers, but was unsure about them so I didn’t respond to them.I understand what I did was wrong, I should not have been interviewing during this time until I determined the direction I wanted to be in. However, how do I repair this? Again, I am very qualified and am a very fair, honest and ethical, hard working individual who went through a very tough depression. What do I do now to repair as my reputation as it is completely ruined in my field where I live. I would prefer not to move, but feel I may have to just to start over. I am 35, so it is not like I am in my 20’s and I know I will soon be facing the age where it is more difficult to find a job. I am at a loss and cannot believe I did this to myself. I was at a point where I was on top of my game and was wanted at every major company in my market and now I can’t even get to the bottom rung in a company.

Signed, Damage Control

Dear Damage Control:

I think you will get your best advice by talking to someone within your profession who knows of the situation and who you trust. You likely have professional acquaintances from former jobs with whom you could talk to ask for their thoughts.You seem certain that you are being rejected for jobs or not being interviewed, because of bad judgment in the way you handled other job offers. That may or may not be the case.I realize that professions have networks of information, but that is rarely a deciding factor in hiring if someone is needed for their skills. If you live in a metropolitan area large enough to have had several job offers in the HR field, it seems likely the area is too large for people to call office to office and warn everyone against you.

So, you may be mistaken about why you are not getting job interviews or not doing well in them. (That is one reason why talking to someone in your local market would be a good idea.)You say you have a lot to offer an employer and that is probably true. But, it may be there are others who offer as much. Or, it may be there is something about the way you present yourself in your resume or cover letter that creates a problem. Give your material to a trusted HR resource and ask for their input about it.Yous say you went through a mental and emotional depression. Could it be that some of those issues are still lingering?

Serious depression is not something that can be gotten over quickly and often not without some counseling.You may have received professional support during that bad time, but if not I hope you will do so even now. That might also help you as you look for work. Many health insurance plans cover such assistance.But, I think your best help will come from a trusted professional friend. Ask him or her to be honest with you about your status in the job market there. Ask if they have any thoughts about how you might prepare yourself for your next interview or ask them to review your resume and cover letter.

Find out if your perception is correct that you are being rejected because the HR people in your area have discussed you and have decided not to hire you. If they think that is the situation, ask them what they think would be helpful for you to do. After all, they are part of the profession and know what would “rehabilitate” your reputation.My suggestion is that when you apply for a job you talk personally with someone in the process. Let them know of your interest and let them hear it in your voice. Don’t refer to prior job offers unless you are asked. Instead, give them a reason to trust that you are sincerely interested in the job and can bring to it the knowledge and skills that are needed.You may also be able to use the network if one exists. If you are in professional associations, talk to members you know and ask for their support. Many people like to help someone come back from a problem time. And, if you are effective and well-respected for your previous work, they will know what you have to offer.

My final thought is this: You ARE in the HR field–and apparently have some advanced skills in that area. So, what would you advise someone to do who was in your same situation? Would you tell them they must move and get to a completely new market? Would you suggest they can help their reputations by contacting professional friends and asking for their support? What do you think would help them? Use your own knowledge and skills to develop a plan of action for this fictional person. Ask your professional friends their opinions about your ideas. If they think they are good ones, apply them to yourself.Best wishes as you work through this difficult time for you. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.