Human Resources/references


Hi Mark, thanks for being available.  I recently got laid off after only 9 months, with a few others due to what I was told was across-the-board reduction of staff.  I know my division did miss its goals by alot, so it wasn't a complete shock.

I just sent him an email stating that I had an upcoming interview, & asked if I could put him down as a reference.  Surprisingly, he replied that he could not, per company policy.  This is a global company, but I thought I did my job well, & that we had a good personal relationship, so I am confused.  What should I make of this?

Hello Greg,

Thanks for your question! It is unfortunate about your layoff.

Companies that have their "act together" will instruct supervisors not to write letters of recommendation for employees being laid off.  It is too bad.  But the judicial system has caused companies some grief and expense over letters of recommendation.

For example, a supervisor writes a glowing letter of recommendation for a former employee stating that he/she had great performance on the job, excellent attendance, and superior quality 0f work.  But the reality was that employee's performance records, created by the same supervisor, show the supervisor only rated the employee as a "3" on a 1 to 5 scale, 1 being excellent. The former employee shows the new company the letter and the new company hires the applicant. Continuing, the new company finds, rather than excellence in job performance, the same 3 performance level and related, associated undesirable behaviors show up in the employee's performance on the new job.  As a result the new company "goes after" the former employer for falsification of records, mis-representation through employment documents and so on.  And the court agrees that the letter constitutes an employment record and document.  Stranger things have happened!

Hey, maybe the supervisor was just trying to help, be a nice guy, felt bad about the layoff. But he misrepresented the former employee's employment record in the letter.  And by doing so created a liability for his company.

So companies often discourage or do not permit supervisors to write letters of recommendation.  And supervisors could get some grief or worse for writing letters of recommendation. And the former company could very well find out the letter was written when the prospective employer calls the former employer to verify the content of the letter and other data presented with/on the applicant's application. With all that some supervisors yet do it.

Hope that helps Greg... good luck with your job search!


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Mark Eichinger


Any type of question related to domestic and international Human Resources work. My H.R. passions include Compensation design and systems in competitive markets, Health and Safety in Industrial Environments, Performance Management, Talent Management (Hiring, Selection, Employee Development, Compensation, Creating Space, etc.), Communications, Coaching, Counseling, Leadership, and Management. Questions I cannot answer: I am sure there are questions within these categories that I may not be able to answer but my experience below would suggest those would be few.


I own International Human Resources Coaching and Consulting, LLC. Previously, I successfully held corporate executive and management leadership positions from 1979 to 2007 in two $9B+ multi-national corporations. Positions included: Vice President, Human Resources for the Asia Pacific Region, Eaton Corporation; I was based in Shanghai, China. Prior to that assignment, Vice President, Human Resources International and Operations, Eaton World Headquarters, Cleveland, Ohio with global responsibility for Eaton’s Human Resources practices, international assignee management, and Regional Human Resources Directors in Asia Pacific, Europe, and Central and South America. Specifically, my experience spans work at domestic and international locations at the operating plant, division, business unit, and corporate levels and most business scenarios to include startups, closedowns, restructurings, integrations, and ongoing operations. I am an Eaton Business Excellence Assessment Examiner (Malcolm Baldrige based system). I introduced processes and process mapping into the Human Resources environment. I have extensive experience with and working in domestic and international organization matrix structures. In the Asia Pacific region, my responsibilities included, leading the regions H.R. team and processes, managing the H.R. relationship with the corporation, creating and leading the professional and general manager development programs, China’s university relations program and managing the Asia Pacific key leader’s process. I have coached managers and leaders. I am a professional listener, my style open, direct, and focused on leader accountability and employee engagement. In Summary, my career responsibility included more than 60,000 employees, 60 union and union free operations, and 45 countries. I also lived in Korea for two years while in service with the USA’s armed forces.

SCORE – Counselors to Americas Small Business; at various locations I have also belonged to Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis and the Chamber of Commerce. I have served on Boards of medical, community and institutional organizations.

Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Youngstown State University. MBA work Youngstown State University, and University of Bridgeport. University of Tennessee, Lean Manufacturing Certified. Thunderbird School of Global Management, Management Certified.

Awards and Honors
Corporate level awards for compensation systems, communications campaigns.

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