Revenge doesn't pay

| May 31, 2007

If a company driver vandalizes or abandons truck, trailer or freight, his former boss can pass that on when the driver’s prospective employers call.

“Damaging equipment, not turning in equipment the company loans him, or not giving the employer the courtesy of knowing you want to quit: these are big no-nos,” Cook says.

Even bad-mouthing a past employer too much can haunt you. So can quitting under fraudulent conditions, such as after faking an injury or accident.

“Unfortunately, a lot of times that comes back around and doesn’t turn out the way the driver planned,” Cook says.

Laws limit the questions prospective employers can ask and the answers former employers can give. The question “Would you hire him again?” is allowed. A simple, one-word reply makes or breaks a driver’s job hunt. If it doesn’t, the background check will.

“We do a thorough background check,” Cook says. “We call previous employers and get whatever information is necessary to make the decision. A lot of times it does boil down to asking if they’d hire him back.”

A problem driver “wouldn’t be a good fit,” Cook says.

“Believe me, you don’t want to leave on poor terms and screw up your reference,” Birdseye says. “If you don’t have the reference, then you’re not working anymore – not in trucking, anyway. In our neck of the woods the trucking companies are all kind of related. If you burn your bridge with one, you burn your bridge with all of them.”

Maybe past employers won’t learn about the bad-mouthing. But they might.

“Yeah, talking bad about your old employer can hurt you,” Birdseye says. “You say one thing; drivers exaggerate when passing it on. It can really blow up in your face.”

How do you want to be remembered?
“Most of the time, if you screw up, it will follow you around,” Chapman says. “Who knows? Maybe they’ll call you back and offer you more money.”

“You might even have to bite your tongue, put your tail between your legs and ask for your old job back,” Birdseye says.

Stranger things have happened.

“If you left respectfully, they’ll take you back,” Birdseye says. “But you won’t have that option if you damage their equipment.”

“I’ve seen cases where guys left on bad terms, and a few years later they return to the company,” Cook says. “But that doesn’t work out too well if you burn your bridges behind you.”

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