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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 years ago

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