Quitting job with after 5+ years and no references because I had to sue my employer. How can I manage this situation with my future employers?

I have been working with this company for more than 5 years and had never received any complaint from my employer or customers. I had to quit and sue my employer after he didn't want to pay me more than 6months of unpaid salaries. He doesn't want to give any reference even though legally (and morally) I'm right. Having had only 4 colleagues (I was in a very small consulting company) I have no references. How can I manage this situation with my future employers?


Remember having a friend in a similar situation. This was my advice in that moment:

-Make a list of the top 50 clients you had in the consulting firm, choose those which you had a close relationship and can actually talk about you (not fake it)

-Call them and ask them if they believe you did a good job and if they were satisfied with your services. If the answer is yes, then here you have two options

1-Ask them if you can use them as reference. Don't talk about your ex employer. He doesn't matter. This is between you and them. Don't talk bad about him/her, it doesn't help. If they say yes, you are up to a start

2-If you ask and they say no, then you can make a decision. You can put them anyways and they will be called by your interviewer (not necessary they would talk to him or say good things, it's a risk) or you can just name the companies without a persons name or contact info

Hope this helped! Good luck

Answered 9 years ago

First step: Get all the negativity out of your own head. Prepare to embark on a full job search and join other job-seekers who are leaving a negative situation. You do not have to disclose any or all of what happened. Don't worry about references right now, either, as you don't have an interview or offer yet!

Second step: Prepare your job search by scripting your interview answers, including the hard questions like "why did you leave your prior company?" Do a great job with your resume, LinkedIn profile, cover letter, etc.

Third step: Knock them dead with your application, networking, and interviewing. Pick up my book for 9 free download templates and tools that come with my program.

You can do this! Chin up, talk positively, and focus on how you present yourself as the best person to fit their gap based on their job description.

Answered 9 years ago


As an Executive Search consultant-who has been interacting with Clients(Hiring Managers) and candidates/prospects, I must admit I am privy to setting expectations at both sides.

Here is a secret-just as anxious as you impress a new employer, and get a good break, even the employer is equally as anxious& keen on -a good bet-adding to their team!

Go ahead, do not worry about the references from an ex employer (bitter or not), and focus on presenting the value add you bring in. Convince the person(s) on how you can transplant your learnings from the earlier gig-and showcase some of your achievements to portray the proven track record.

Believe me, if your employer still need certificates & testimonials from third party references to convince herself/himself, then there is nothing to crow about.

Cheers..happy hunting!

Answered 9 years ago

I'm making an assumption that you've been working for a US company. Often, US employers will only provide neutral references anyway--meaning, all they will do is confirm your dates of employment, title, and potentially salary. Leverage the relationships you've developed directly with your clients during your 5+ years of experience, and ask directly whether they would be willing to provide a reference. You might also ask a select few if they would be willing to provide a recommendation on LinkedIn--while this is not a substitute for a reference, it can serve to publicly validate the quality of your work, which may open the door to some opportunities. Your situation is not bleak--people have overcome more challenging situations and gone on to be successful. Finally, I'll share one other secret with you--while most companies indicate that they routinely check candidate references, that is not always the case, and there are serious questions as to whether references are even a good indicator of future success. As long as you are upfront when employers ask why you're looking and you don't attempt to mislead or falsify information, and focus on selling a potential employer on how you can solve their business challenges, you'll be fine.

Answered 9 years ago

This is clearly the case of negative reference. Negative references can undermine your hard work overnight. Some employers are not willing to leave the past in the past and send references that hurt your chances and can cost you career advancements. For cases like this, a more proactive approach to a professional reference list is needed. Keep the following points in mind to avoid negative influence from ruining your career:
1. Clarify the situation
While it may seem obvious to avoid including an employer on your professional reference list you believe will give a negative report, many neglect this pertinent step and insist on referring hiring managers to companies that hold them in less than perfect esteem. You also can ask a colleague to call and see what the reference would be before including it on your professional reference list. If the review is negative or unconfirmed, do not list the company as a reference. If you do not think your past employer will give you a positive review, it's better to cut your losses and leave them off your reference list altogether.

2. Have a conversation
If a negative reference is unpreventable and your former boss has already hurt your reputation, it is time to reach out and negotiate a truce. Call your former boss and ask if they would be willing to agree to a future reference call. If the conversation doesn't look like it is going to accomplish anything positive, be assertive and explain why you think it is unprofessional and counterproductive to both sides. Many employers will feel pity for your mistake, especially if you were young and just starting out, or they may fear legal recourse.

3. Establish the true story
Sometimes the bad item on your professional reference list is a case of a misunderstanding or some form of inaccurate information. If the reference is factually inaccurate, skip your former boss and go straight to the Human Resources department. This may seem extreme, but giving a bad reference based on false information is unethical and unprofessional.

4. Explain the situation
When you cannot avoid a bad reference or negotiate it away, explain it to potential employers. Warn them that the reference will not be a good one and take time to explain why. One of the most common strategies employed against a negative professional reference list is having more positive references.

5. Ask them to stop
For negative references that do not cross legal boundaries, tell them to stop giving damaging references. This is particularly effective if the information is not accurate and could hurt your reputation unwillingly. List the name, complaint, and negative reference material in the letter. Tell them what they are doing, why it hurts your job prospects, and to stop sending negative references.

6. Get others involved
But if you cannot convince your previous employer to stop, legal action may be required. Many companies prefer to prevent court actions and will simply stop sending references of any kind.
Besides if you do have any questions give me a call:

Answered 3 years ago

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