Q: I worked at my past job for 19 years and left because of my manager. Before quitting, I discussed concerns about my manager with human...

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Q: I worked at my past job for 19 years and left because of my manager. Before quitting, I discussed concerns about my manager with human resources. Management has taken disciplinary action against him.

Now, when I fill out job applications I’m asked, “May we contact your supervisor?” How do I handle this question?

A: You don’t give your supervisor’s name, but offer other people in your company.

If the interviewer asks why your former manager is not your contact, simply repeat that the list you offered were the folks who knew your work best.

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Under no circumstances should you bad-mouth your former supervisor. Since your former management agreed with your concerns about your ex-manager, it also isn’t a bad idea to ask someone in HR how you might handle this question with potential employers.

Because they’ve acknowledged that your ex-boss has some problems, they might offer his supervisor or other senior management as potential contacts.

Also keep in mind that if your industry is small, your former boss’s reputation may precede you. Interviewers know they can tell a lot about a candidate’s character by how they handle questions about past conflicts at work. Your diplomacy and tact will serve you well if interviewers know your ex-boss is a difficult person.

At this point, it may seem a little unfair to you that you had to leave a job and your ex-boss is only receiving disciplinary action.

However, keep in mind that justice belongs to those who are patient and see the big picture. In time, you’ll be thriving in a new company, having learned a lot from your experience — whereas your old boss will probably still be suffering from his old problems in ways that increasingly sabotage his success.

The last word(s)

Q: One of my co-workers just cheated, lied and manipulated her way to a promotion. Whatever happened to fairness?

A: It never existed. Focus on your success, not your co-worker’s bad behavior.

Daneen Skube, Ph.D., can be reached at 1420 N.W. Gilman Blvd., No. 2845, Issaquah, WA 98027-7001; by e-mail at interpersonaledge@comcast.net; or at www.interpersonaledge.com. Sorry, no personal replies. To read other Daneen Skube columns, go to: www.seattletimes.com/daneenskube