I understand that you have to put your supervisor down on the application but what happens if you worked for a terrible boss who never had anything nice to say about your work. Should I use someone else instead who knew how well I did or try to explain to the interviewer the situation?
The Career Doctor responds:
Don’t confuse the question of asking for your supervisor’s name on a job application with offering references. You need to be honest on your application and put your direct supervisor’s name on it but by all means do not use that person as a reference if he or she will not say anything good about your work performance. And don’t leave that part blank on your application — that will only draw attention to the deficiency.
Remember that job-hunting is all about marketing yourself — you are the product and you need to put the best polish on the product. Do not offer any negative information. Your goal should be to get a job offer so keep that focus in mind. And if during the interview the interviewer asks why your current boss is not one of your references simply state that the you feel the people on your reference sheet can do a better job of discussing all your unique qualifications. Don’t ever say that you are having problems with your current boss — and certainly NEVER say anything bad about your current (or former) boss. And stick to the truth; don’t ever lie.