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What to do if former employer's policy is to not provide references?

By Why Me Worry? ·
I'm in a situation in which I am seeking work, but my former employer, a large law firm, does not provide references due to the legal issues that can arise for defamation of character/libel/slander/etc. if the wrong things are said. The most they can do is verify employment dates and will not disclose salary history or work performance. Their policy regarding reference requests is to contact HR, which will pretty much restate their no reference policy to the person asking. How do I get around this situation if potential new employers want professional references, but the former company's policy dictates otherwise? I don't want to get any of my former colleagues in trouble, or worst, fired, for providing me with references, but how can this obstacle be overcome when the HR dept of most companies starts demanding this? Also, I am not in the position to ask for references from my former managers, not that they would give me any due to company policy, because I did not leave on very good terms with them and do not trust them to say good things about me. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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Not unusual

by stress junkie In reply to What to do if former empl ...

First, shouldn't your alias be "What? Me Worry?"? The alias Why Me Worry doesn't make sense. What Me Worry is from Alfred E. Neuman of Mad Magazine fame.

Second many businesses have the same policy about employment references.

Third, I have found that very very few businesses actually call for references.

So, no worries mate.

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IT Recruiters want this stuff

by Why Me Worry? In reply to Not unusual

It's virtually impossible to know who is and isn't hiring without going through some IT recruiting agency these days, and they are the ones who want references to make sure they are not placing a complete f**k up in a company. I can understand their position on this, but if the company refuses it, then what do you do?

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by john.a.wills In reply to IT Recruiters want this s ...

One of my former managers once refused to give an agent a reference and she did not read his refusal and thoiught it was a good reference and recommended me to an employer on the strength of it.

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other sources for references

by dearmoree In reply to IT Recruiters want this s ...

I worked for a large computer manufacturer in Texas for several years. They had the same policy regarding references. I contacted several of the managers I had worked for and asked them directly if they would be a reference for me. They all said they would and gave me home phone or cell phone numbers to use on my reference lists. Thanks to their input I now work for the largest community college in Michigan.

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Common Practice

by TheChas In reply to What to do if former empl ...

Not providing references is becoming common practice in the US.

For your former employers, it is a loose - loose situation.

If the reference is bad, the former employee sues them.

If the reference is too good, and the employee is a dud in the new job, the new employer sues them.

You need to develop some personal professional references outside of your management and HR chain.

Be it a former instructor, a friend who also works in IT, even a coworker.

The most important thing is to use home addresses and make SURE that you have permission from your reference for people to contact them.


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This is pretty standard.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending up on your point of view), this is pretty typical. Most of the companies I have worked for have had this type of policy in place. You might want to ask some of your former co-workers if they would be willing to give you a reference. Heck, I even had a former manager who told me to give prospective employers his home number so that he could "technically" be a personal reference, but he also brought up the fact that I worked for him (I was subsequently hired based upon his feedback).

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Thats the ticket...while employed gather references

by Beoweolf In reply to This is pretty standard.

This is an insidious, progressive problem. Its almost like sports professionals prior to free agency and players unions. Meritocracy in IT is great, but all the cards are in the hands of the corps at the high end.

Your solution is to ask for, printout recomendations from staff, co-workers and customers while they bask in the glow of some phomenal rescue you provided or assisted in. It may seem mercenary, but it helps whne you eventually move on.

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Friends are the best way...

by mikebertie In reply to What to do if former empl ...

Almost regardless of the way in which you leave a company, getting your friends "in the trenches" to vouch for you is the best way in my opinion. There is nothing that the company can do to keep one of their employees from sharing their job experiences where you are concerned with anyone they like...the company just doesn't want that information to come from an "official channel". I would ask a couple of my ex-coworkers for a glowing reference and use them...someday they will need one as well, and you can be there for them !!

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You bet they are

by BlueKnight In reply to Friends are the best way. ...

I found myself in a similar situation back in the late '70's. Since around 1975 companies have been reluctant to give references for former employees because of the potential legal ramifications should they say something negative. To avoid the problem, they have opted to say nothing other than to confirm that you worked there.

I my situation, none of my coworkers knew I had been terminated (on a Friday). The following Monday morning, when word got around as to my whereabouts, my phone began ringing. I received two calls from project managers saying that they would have been glad to have me on their team had they only known someone took exception to my work, and if I needed a reference feel free to use them. Those calls were followed by several calls from peers and fellow team members offering support and help with references if needed.

References from these people are worth much more than one from an employer, because these folks are most familiar with your work, after all, they were "in the trenches" with you.

As JamesDKing mentioned in his response, keep copies of your performance reviews also. You can provide those for reference should it be necessary.

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Letter of Rec

by regloff In reply to What to do if former empl ...

Well - considering the fact you didn't leave on very good terms with them - It's probably best they won't give out any information other than work dates.

Have a friend call - preferably a friend who's done reference checks before, and see what they say. I'm sure you can find a list of questions asked in reference checks on the web.

I currently work for a law firm myself, and I'd have to say - it will be my last as well. They are a bit too arrogant for me, and way too demanding. I'm by no means lazy, but they can be unreasonable with their demands at times. We had some problems with our ISP for a while - the problems are all fixed, but this place keeps riding my back to "see what the problem was". Well, it's fixed, so why's it still an issue? They act like they want guarantees nothing will ever break down again - like a bunch of spoiled babies, really.

Oh well, no matter - I got a phone interview tomorrow anyway :)

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