The Art to Rebutting Unfavorable Employment History
A Truck driver husband and wife are shopping in their local Wal-Mart. The husband picks up a case of Budweiser and puts it in their cart. [They’re in their personal car and off duty of course.]
“What do you think you’re doing?” asks the wife.
“They’re on sale, only $10 for 24 cans,” he replies.
“Put them back, we can’t afford them,” demands the wife, and so they carry on shopping.
A few aisles further on along, the woman picks up a $20 jar of face cream and puts it in the basket…
“What do you think you’re doing?” asks the husband.
“It’s my face cream. It makes me look beautiful,” replies the wife.
Her husband retorts: “So do 24 cans of Budweiser and they’re half the price.”
The store intercom crackles and an announcement is made: “Cleanup on aisle 25, we have a husband down.”
There are times when even though something is true, it’s better left unsaid. If you’ve been married long enough, you know that to be true. If you’ve been in the working world long enough, you probably also know that to be true. (If I could go back in time, I’d sew my smart mouth shut a few times.)
Some of the times when less is better are when you are rebutting (adding your version of events) to an employment reference that has been provided by one of your former employers. There is an art to this. On the one hand, you should always dispute and provide all manner of proof to rebut something on your employment history that is false. You should guard your good employment history as your livelihood depends on it.
That said, there are occasions when things are better left unsaid. To give an extreme example, I remember one driver who had a “no show” on his DAC employment history. He had refused dispatch and wanted to state that, being a safe driver, he had been to a party and was in no condition to drive or take a drug test should his name be picked. For a potential employer, this rebuttal would have made things worse, not better. The goal of a rebuttal is to improve your employment chances, and even though something may be true, or it might feel really good to lambast your past employer, it pays to be smart when rebutting a negative employment reference.
Smarter still is to take steps to avoid having to rebut something in the first place. Attempt to leave an employer on the best of terms—though it might feel good to cause them some grief. Give written notice of your leaving and keep a copy of the notice. During your employment if your equipment is damaged in any way, document the circumstances and damage.
If there is something wrong with your history, dispute it with all the documentation you can provide. Having something removed is preferable to rebutting something. If you need to rebut something, try to keep it short, direct and pertinent. “I had just gotten in a fight with my wife,” “I was talking on the cell phone,” “the dispatcher was a 400 pound jerk” all may be true—but don’t help your cause. If you rebut with multiple paragraphs every employment history you’ve ever had, potential employers may be turned off.
If you’re registered with DOTJobHistory, we’re here to assist, but even if you’re not, you can help your cause by thinking through your rebuttal and keeping potential future employers in mind.