Your Office Coach | If specific details are hard to come by, then it’s time for rigorous self-examination.

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Q: I was recently told that I had received a “do not rehire” rating from a company where I worked as a contractor. The employment agency shared this information after I requested another assignment there. I was with that business for a year, so this news felt like a punch in the gut.

Now I’m frustrated and angry because I don’t know what I did wrong. During my assignment, I was never reprimanded or counseled by human resources. I made many friends and voluntarily participated in several community service projects.

How can I find out what the problem was?

A: Being summarily dismissed without explanation would be maddening, so your feelings are quite understandable. Your desire for more information is also justified, since determining the cause might prevent future problems. Just remember that your goal is not to ferret out the complainers, but to examine your own work history.

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Start by talking with an appropriate manager at your employment agency. Unless a confidentiality agreement prohibits such disclosures, they should be able to describe the company’s concerns. Given the length of your assignment with this business, you might also reasonably request some feedback from their HR manager.

But if specific details are hard to come by, then it’s time for some rigorous self-examination. Refusals to rehire are typically based on issues with either tasks or relationships. You’ve mentioned making friends and participating in community activities, but neither of those factors is directly work-related. So here are a few questions to consider.

Did anyone ever talk with you about errors, missed deadlines or quality lapses? Were there interpersonal difficulties with any co-workers? Did you have disagreements with your supervisor or other managers? Do you have potentially bothersome habits, like talking too much, hygiene issues, being tardy or excessive socializing?

Perhaps these answers will shed some light. But if neither inquiry nor introspection provides any clues, then the reason for this rejection may remain a frustrating mystery.

Submit questions to Marie G. McIntyre at yourofficecoach.com.