"You Can't Use Your Last Job As Reference? Why Not?"

What is the best way, or the preferred way, to get around the fact that you won’t be able to use your latest job as a reference? I am looking for work due to an upcoming relocation to a city within the same state, but 140 miles away. I have a series of excellent references, but I am hesitant to use my latest job as a reference even tho I am leaving on decent terms and have performed very well for them for three years.

Here’s the backstory (you knew one was coming, right?):

My immediate supervisor has been jealous and indignant at the attention I have received from the owners of the company for my excellent performance. Those of you who have read some of my threads about this woman in the past will understand her petulance, but for those of you who don’t know, she is a younger woman (not yet 30), this is only her 2nd job ever, and she has been extremely protective of her “superiority” over me, and I have tried to maintain that all-important-to-her feeling of superiority when I can (when it isn’t ridiculous, such as her extensive several-hour lunches leaving me in the lurch, simply because she CAN take them and I cannot). When called upon to give me a reference for a secondary job I wanted to pick up, she gave me a decent reference, but embarrassed me by saying such things as “She takes direction very well”, “She does what she is told” and speaking to my independence and trustworthiness not at all. I foresee more of this, which isn’t precisely helpful, altho not harmful either, I suppose.

But of more critical importance is the owner of the company, for whom I have personally assisted, for the past three years. Recently, a change in our relationship occurred, ALL on his side, and completely due to a devastating marital issue in his life. He decided, about 2 weeks ago, that he’d like to—geez, this is embarrassing!—take things to a sexual level with me. I firmly protested, refusing him even when he called me repeatedly at HOME, and went on with business just as if the incident never happened. He finally apologized to me, but then followed up the apology with more calls to my house again last weekend, not realizing I was out of town & not there to answer. Since then I have given my month’s notice, he is aware of it, and is acting childish as hell about it, feeling “abandoned”. Can you just imagine the reference he’s likely to give me?

I know I am working for the mentally challenged for the next month, but how do I deal with this in my interviews going forward? I have interviewed for one position, have given them my excellent list of references with the explanation that I had not given my notice at this job yet, but if I don’t get this position, what workarounds do I have?

I’m not going to make any issues regarding the boss situation at this point altho frankly I COULD. I am glad to put the young supervisor issues behind me as well.

Dopers, what would YOU do?

[withdrawn for stupidity] :smack: :smack: :smack:

Maybe a HR person will be along shortly to put in their two cents worth, but it always amazes me that (ex) employers think they can get away with anything when it comes to references. In fact, there is limited information they can provide, and if I am correct, almost none of it is “personal reflection” type of information. (“Takes direction well” type of thing.)

Is there someone who used to work there that could vouch for your past work history and act as a professional reference? When I provide professional references, NONE of them are my current employer, but all of them are people who are familiar with my work ethic and history. Since I work in largely in the nonprofit field, where turn over is high, it’s unlikely that any of my past employers would still be located at the organization anyway.

I’m not sure the best way to keep them from contacting your current employer would be at this point though, without sounding negative about them, which is something that you really don’t want to ever do.


Give the name of someone you work with - not in your chain of command. Make sure your reference knows. They shouldn’t lie and say they are your boss - they should describe themselves as a coworker.

You can let the new company know “my company doesn’t give out references as a matter of policy.” You can then provide the name and home phone number of someone you work with (again, not in your chain of command) that will give a “personal reference” and let them know this is someone you have worked with in a professional capacity.

You can just say “I’m not comfortable having you contact my current employer.” This isn’t an unusual situation (yeah, the sexual harrassment is, but the “please don’t contact my current employer” isn’t).

If your relationship with the harrassing CEO is comfortable enough (these are sometimes strange situations, been there) you can ask him. “You know I’m leaving… and I’d like to use you as a reference, but given the situation, I wanted to make sure you are comfortable with that and would give me a good reference.”

Having remembered that the company you’re working for is incredibly small and prone to nepotism, I’d probably go with this option. The owner doesn’t appear to be taking your leaving well, and your supervisor isn’t likely to do you any favors either, especially considering the kind of tone she takes when she does. Best of luck.

The last time I recall filling out applications, I seem to remember there being “Can we contact this employer Y/N” questions for each listing. But that may just be local to my state/region/something.

A couple things working in my favor:

I DO have an alternative person here that would vouch for me in a reasonable and truthful manner, and he was another supervisor of mine, although that relationship kind of went by the wayside when I began as executive assistant to the owner. He’s a minority owner, and I know if he knew what the majority owner was up to with regard to me, he’d be furious…as much for the questionable legality of it as anything, but he likes me well enough, knows my work skills well enough, and is an honest resource if push comes to shove.

I do have a “headhunter” in the new town already in whom I could confide, and who could run some interference for me, since that is her job. Surely an experienced job placement person will have run into this issue, or something similar, before. (I just now remembered her!)

I dunno that I will fill out a lot of applications, Projammer. I usually rely upon my resume & reference list, and that doesn’t have such a question on it. But if I am asked to fill out an application, I will certainly take your advice.

I work in IT for a hospital network in three states and somewhere north of 100000 employees. Everyone gets to fill out an application so that they will have all the “relevent” information in a standard form. So while my resume is in a file, online, and who knows where all in the organization, they went from their standard form to make sure of my bonafides.

My current company does not allow employees to give references for anyone who they’ve worked with. The reasons I’ve been given is that if you give a bad one the employee might sue if they didn’t get a job, and if you give a good one the employer might sue if the employee doesn’t work out. (I have no evidence this has ever happened.) I’ve been asked for a reference for someone who used to work for me, and the potential employer understood.

So, it seems that people are beginning not to expect references from current employers.

As I understood it, the only information they can give is verification that you worked there between ____ and ____. I don’t even think salary info is legit.

No, your references can comment on your performance and abilities as much as they want. Some companies have a policy to only provide certain information for fear of a nuisance defamation suit, but this policy is not required.

I’ve never yet had a prospective new job interview where I was asked why I wasn’t using someone as a refernce. There could be any NUMBER of reasons.

Can you ask the owner of your company to sign a reference letter? Then you type up a generic reference - you know:

To Whom It May Concern:

Rebecca has been a valued employee of ThisIsHell Company for five years. In that time she’s shown herself to be trustworthy, intelligent and hardworking. She will be an asset to any business who hires her.


Sexual Predator

All he has to do is sign it. Make copies and keep the original.


It’s almost universal these days that letters of reference from previous employers are verboten. We don’t ask for them and we won’t write them. Instead, most places want letters of reference from people who have no real stake in your work (they may have worked with you, or they may know you personally or professionally.) Because of my work in journalism for many years, I’ve been able to secure letters of reference from state legislators, an Episcopal bishop, university presidents, and the former state agriculture commissioner. I also have been refused requests to write such letters, on the basis that the person just didn’t know enough about my work to offer an honest opinion. I understood that; we’re still friends.