Your Performance Reviews: Can They Actually Follow You from One Job to the Next?

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Here’s a common question career advisors often hear from job seekers, followed by a few tips that can help anxious employees keep things in perspective:

“I struggled to get along with my previous employer, and I’m not sure I was really cut out for that position for a number of complicated reasons. It may or may not have been my fault, but my last performance review did NOT go well. My question is this: How will this negative review impact the linear progress of my career? Can a terrible review hold me back over the long term? And if so, what can I do to minimize the damage?”

How Much Can a Negative Review Hurt Your Career?

The answer to this question is two-fold. First, there are very few practical ways a bad review can follow you from one position to the next. Unless a review is published publically online, prospective future employers won’t be able to read it. And without your permission, there’s usually no legal or ethical way potential employers can ask for a review or for previous employers to share one.

Fortunately, good reviews can follow us if we decide to add them to a personal portfolio, publish them online, or allow our former employers to share them (all good ideas). But bad reviews typically stay in the past where they belong. They may be kept on file in the HR office for a few years after you part ways with your employer, but they won’t hound you from one job to the next.

At the same time, even though a bad review can have little technical impact on your progress up the ladder, the psychological impact may be another thing altogether. Life is full of naysayers and critics, those who have our best interests in mind and those who don’t. Your ability to identify truthful and meaningful criticism and learn from it may mean the difference between thriving and struggling throughout your entire career. But while you do this, you also have a responsibility to keep non-constructive criticism at bay and keep the voices of doubters and haters from getting into your head and staying there. 

There’s an art and a scienceThe Key to Professional Success: Resilience 

If you realize that your previous employer viewed you through a lens skewed by bias, anger, or insecurity, get the affirmation you need to bounce back. And if you recognize that your employer was partially right and you do indeed lack some of the skill sets or character traits you need to find success in this field, you’ll need to aggressively pursue the skills and training that can help you catch up and get ahead.

In the end, if it turns out that this line of work is simply not the right one for you, that’s okay. But you’ll have to face that difficult truth, choose a new direction, and move on. LiveCareer can help. Find your next path by taking a career test that can reveal where your true passions lie. And once you know where to head next, LiveCareer’saward-winning resume buildervast database of available jobs


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