Career Advice

Former Employer Sabotaging New Job? Here’s What You Need to Do

It’s a situation that nobody wants to encounter: after leaving your job, you find out that your former employer has begun to take steps to sabotage your new job. Whether it’s with negative remarks about you during your job search or by using tactics to sabotage the company you are now working for, this kind of behavior can be damaging and hard to overcome.

But before you panic, take a deep breath. There are strategies you can implement to handle a former employer sabotaging your new job and protect yourself from any blowback.

In this article, I’ll show you how to successfully address the situation, communicate effectively with your new employer, and safeguard your career from any negative impact.

Why Do Employers Engage in Job Sabotage?


If you’ve ever experienced a former employer sabotaging your job search, you may be wondering why they would go through the trouble of trying to ruin your career prospects. Here are a few reasons why employers engage in job sabotage:

  • Revenge: Some employers may engage in job sabotage simply out of spite or a desire for revenge. Maybe they didn’t like you or they felt you wronged them in some way, and they want to make sure you don’t succeed in your future endeavors.
  • Protecting their reputation: If you left your previous job on bad terms or were fired, your former employer may be worried that you’ll badmouth them to potential employers. By sabotaging your job search, they may be trying to protect their reputation and prevent any negative information from getting out.
  • Keeping you as competition: If you’re leaving your previous job to work for a competitor, your former employer may try to sabotage your job search to keep you from becoming a threat to their business.

It’s important to note that while some employers may engage in job sabotage, it’s not a common practice and most employers will simply confirm basic details about your employment when contacted by a potential employer.

If you suspect that your former employer is engaging in job sabotage, it’s important to take action to protect your career prospects. You can try to keep them off a potential employer’s radar by not offering up their name when filling out employment paperwork or by providing an alternate contact at the company as your reference. You can also attempt to pre-empt a former employer’s negative input by explaining your challenges with them in the interview process, framing the situation in a positive light, and emphasizing what you learned from the experience.

Signs that your former employer is sabotaging your job

Subtle signs of sabotage

It can be challenging to detect when your former employer is sabotaging your job search. However, some subtle signs can help you identify if they are trying to harm your chances of getting a new job.

One of the most common signs is when you don’t receive any responses from companies you applied to, even though you have the right qualifications and experience. This could be a result of your old boss giving negative feedback to your potential employers.

Another subtle sign of sabotage is when you notice a lack of enthusiasm from your references. If your former employer has contacted them and given negative feedback, they may be hesitant to speak positively about you. This can be especially true if they are still employed by your old company.

Obvious signs of sabotage

In some cases, the signs of sabotage can be more apparent. For example, if you receive a job offer and then it is rescinded, it could be a result of your former employer giving negative feedback to your potential employer.

Another obvious sign is if your old boss contacts your new employer and badmouths you, leading to you being fired from your new job. In this case, you may be able to take legal action against your old boss. Remember, “old boss got me fired from new job” is not a situation you want to be in. Keep an eye out for the signs of sabotage and take action if you suspect that your former employer is trying to harm your career.

Read More: How Often Are Job Offers Rescinded? (And How To Respond)  

Can a former employer badmouth you?

former employer sabotaging new job

It’s not uncommon for a former employer to badmouth you to potential employers, especially if you left on bad terms. However, there are limits to what they can say and do.

According to InHerSight, if your former employer is giving out false information, you should see an employment lawyer. If they are badmouthing you because you had reported discrimination or other illegal practices during your employment, for example, you may be a victim of retaliation, and that’s illegal. The EEOC states that former employees are among those protected by anti-retaliation laws.

Another example of questionable behavior from your employer includes being passed over for a promotion due to your gender, speaking up about it, and getting fired as a result. If your former employer is bad-mouthing you due to your whistleblowing, they may be violating anti-retaliation laws.

However, if your former employer is simply providing a reference that is truthful and accurate, they are within their rights to do so. This means that they can provide information about your job title, dates of employment, and job duties. They can also provide their opinion of your work performance, but it must be based on facts and not personal opinions or biases.

If you’re also wondering “Can my old boss call my new job?”, yes, your old boss can call your new job, but they are limited in what they can say about you. Most employers will only confirm your dates of employment and job title, and they will not provide any additional information without your consent.

Read More: Can Prospective Employer Contact Your Current Employer During A Background Check?

How to Find Out What Your Former Employer is Saying About You

Search Your Name in “Incognito” Mode and See What Pops Up

If you suspect that your former employer is sabotaging your new job or your job search, you can start by doing a quick search of your name in Google in “incognito” mode. This will give you an idea on whether there is any negative information about you.

When conducting this search, be sure to use variations of your name, including your full name, your first name and last initial, and any nicknames or aliases you may have used in the past.

Use Reference-Checking Services

If you want to know for sure whether your former employer is sabotaging your job search, you can use reference-checking services to find out what they are saying about you to prospective employers.

These services will pose as another employer or someone conducting a background check, and they will contact your former employer to ask about your employment history and performance.

Be aware that some states have laws that restrict what employers can say about former employees, so it’s important to check your state’s laws before using these services.

What You Can Do If Your Former Employer is Sabotaging Your New Job

Dealing with a former boss trying to ruin your career can be a stressful and frustrating experience. However, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your future job prospects. Here are some actions you can take:

Gather Evidence

If you suspect that your former employer is trying to sabotage your new job, it’s important to collect any evidence that supports your suspicions.

This could include emails, text messages, or voicemails from the former employer, as well as any communication between the former employer and your new or potential employers.

Keep a record of any negative comments or feedback that you receive from your new employer or colleagues, and document any instances where your former employer has made false or misleading statements about you.

Confronting the Former Employer

If you have evidence that your former employer is trying to sabotage your new job, you may want to confront them directly. Keep in mind, however, that this can be a risky move, and it’s important to approach the situation carefully.

Be calm and professional, and try to avoid getting emotional or confrontational. Explain your concerns and provide evidence to support your claims. If your former employer is receptive, you may be able to resolve the issue without involving legal action.

Speak with Your New Employer

If you suspect that your former employer may be sabotaging your new job, it is important to be upfront with your new employer.

Explain the situation and provide any evidence you have collected. This can help prevent any misunderstandings and ensure that your new employer has an accurate understanding of your qualifications and experience.

Consult an Attorney

former employer sabotaging new job

If the situation with your former employer is serious, you may need to consult an attorney. A lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and options, and can advise you on the best course of action. They can also help you negotiate with your former employer, or represent you in court if necessary.

Get More Positive References

If you’re concerned that your former employer is providing negative references to potential employers, it’s important to counter this negativity with positive references.

Reach out to former colleagues or supervisors who can vouch for your skills and work ethic. You can also consider working with a recruiter who may be able to help bypass obstacles and help you to be more marketable to prospective employers.

Dealing with a former employer who is trying to sabotage your new job can be a challenging experience. However, by taking proactive steps to protect yourself and your career, you can minimize the impact of their actions and move forward with confidence.

Prevent Sabotage

When you’re looking for a new job, it’s important to take steps to prevent your former employer from sabotaging your efforts. Here are some tips to help you protect yourself:

Protecting Your Personal Information

One of the easiest ways for a former employer to sabotage your job search is by sharing your personal information with potential employers. To prevent this, be careful about who you share your resume and other job application materials with. Only provide this information to trusted sources, such as recruiters or hiring managers you’ve spoken with directly.

You can also take steps to protect your online presence. Make sure your social media profiles are set to private, and be cautious about what you post online. Avoid sharing information that could be used to identify you, such as your full name, address, or phone number.

Being Cautious of New Colleagues

When you start a new job, it’s natural to want to make friends with your new colleagues. However, it’s important to be cautious about what you share with them, especially if you suspect that your former employer may be trying to sabotage your efforts.

Be careful about sharing information about your previous job or employer, and avoid discussing any negative experiences you may have had. Stick to neutral topics, such as your hobbies or interests, until you get to know your new colleagues better.

Establishing Clear Boundaries with Former Employers

If you suspect that your former employer may be trying to sabotage your job search, it’s important to establish clear boundaries with them. Avoid contacting them directly or engaging with them on social media. If they try to contact you, be polite but firm in your response, and avoid discussing your job search or any negative experiences you may have had.

You can also consider reaching out to a lawyer or other legal professional for advice on how to handle the situation. They can help you understand your rights and options, and may be able to help you take legal action if necessary.

Moving Forward

Rebuilding Trust with New Employer

After experiencing sabotage from a former employer, it’s natural to feel hesitant about trusting a new employer. However, it’s important to remember that not all employers are the same, and it’s unfair to assume that your new employer will act the same way.

One way to rebuild trust is to be transparent with your new employer about your past experiences. Explain what happened and how it affected you, but also emphasize your commitment to your new job and your willingness to work hard to succeed.

It’s also important to communicate effectively with your new employer. Keep them updated on your progress, ask for feedback, and be open to constructive criticism. By demonstrating your dedication and professionalism, you can build a strong relationship with your new employer based on mutual trust and respect.

Seeking Support

Dealing with the aftermath of sabotage from a former employer can be emotionally draining. It’s important to seek support from friends, family, or a therapist to help you process your feelings and move forward.

You may also want to consider joining a support group or online community for people who have experienced similar situations. Hearing from others who have gone through similar experiences can be validating and empowering.

Remember that seeking support is a sign of strength, not weakness. It takes courage to ask for help, and doing so can help you heal and move forward.

Learning from the Experience

Although it may be difficult to see at first, experiencing sabotage from a former employer can be a valuable learning experience. It can teach you to be more cautious about who you trust, to communicate more effectively, and to be more resilient in the face of adversity.

Take some time to reflect on what you learned from the experience and how you can apply those lessons to your future career. By doing so, you can turn a negative experience into a positive one and grow both personally and professionally.

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About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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