I was in a gender harassment situation that I left about two years ago, and did not really think about my future as I was exiting the situation. I have had a lot of personal trauma around the experience, and realize that I can’t use my last job for reference even though I was there for five years. What should I do? I still need to be able to work.

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6 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    Just start looking for another job, and don’t worry about the last boss not liking you.

    Most people will not ask to call your last job as a reference. If someone asks for a reference, just give them the name of someone else. It’s okay. Plenty of people can’t use their last job as a reference. Talk about your last job like it was great, and you were great at it,
    and say you left because you needed a break – which is true, you did need a break. Say now you’re ready to go back to work and you’re excited to do a good job again.

    Don’t be hesitant about saying that you were a great performer at the last job. That’s what’ll get you another job. It doesn’t matter if your last boss thought you were a top performer or not. It matters what you say you were. It’s subjective.


  2. downfromtheledge
    downfromtheledge says:

    I feel your pain. I came close to committing suicide as a result of harrassment from a boss. When I quit, my next 4 years consisted of being suicidal and unemployed. So right now I have to count myself lucky that I am only *underemployed* and making half of what I am worth, because not having references (and now a spotty employment record) has f*cked me over.

    Nearly every employment application I have filled out DOES require the name of your previous boss, or requires you to list 3 supervisory references – not just colleagues – and you can’t just leave a required field empty. Or it can be very conspicuous to leave off….and there are certain fields like education where they are just going to call your previous principal, and there’s no hiding who it was.

    This is a very real employment barrier that can’t just be talked away with a positive attitude, and not everyone is a great bullshitter who can lie their way through an interview. I had my most confident interview ever 2 weeks ago for a job I am more than qualified for…answered all the tough questions about my gaps in employment…doesn’t seem to matter what explanation I give, because I have tried them all. To no avail.

  3. Morgan
    Morgan says:

    Employees put way too much weight on references. Most companies won’t even give out a reference, even if you’ve specifically given permission – there is way too much liability. Future employers may call to verify employment, but that’s about the extent of it.

  4. Jen
    Jen says:

    Morgan is right. The last several companies I’ve worked for had a policy of only providing confirmation of dates of employment and nothing else for past employees. They would provide salary confirmation only if the employee requested it. The easiest way to handle this is to list the general number for HR at the employer. They will call and get the basic verification that way. If asked directly about your previous supervisor just state that you haven’t kept in touch.

  5. WorkinProgress
    WorkinProgress says:

    I had this experience with my last job. My boss and I were like oil and vingar. I asked a colleague to please be a reference for me. I basically said, “I know BOSS and I didn’t always see eye-to-eye. Would you be able to talk about some projects we did together, my personality and work ethic?”

    My colleauge left me a very kind voicemail that said, “No problem about BOSS. I’m happy to be a reference.”

    Sometimes honesty really is the best policy.

  6. nicole
    nicole says:

    I understand your pains, guys…I worked for a small time restaurant off and on for ten years, it was my first job, my inbetween other jobs job and even, unfortunately, my previous job. I ran the place single handedly without breaking a sweat and I had to fight tooth and nail for 10 dollars an hour.. I even learned chinese to make the job easier considering i was the only american… the last couple months I worked there
    I ran in to TWO harrassment situations within a couple months from TWO different new employees who didn’t respect that I had any authority because I’m 20 and a female. One male employee pushed me down and yelled in my face, and he was not fired, after being harrassed multiple times I threatened to take legal action and it stopped… then another male employee began to harrass me, he was angry because I was unavailable romantically… I had run in to this before but not in such a situation to where this person made my job very very difficult…
    after the last straw (my boyfriend was told he would have a job to replace the previous harrasser, and after two months of promising he had a job, my boss said he would no longer hire my boyfriend) I decided after working for you all of these years… this is ridiculous..

    ever since I have been unemployed
    using multiple staffing agencies to no avail..
    every application I fill asks for previous employer phone number and if they can contact them.. I say no.. now the application I’m filling out right at this moment asks WHY I dont want them contacted… i dont even know what to say. it looks bad to trash talk your last job and it looks bad to say you’ve been harrassed because they think you’re a risk you might complain or take legal action in the future if you run in to a problem…

    I still dont know of a solution, I’ve been looking on the internet. I found a good site for reasons why to leave a job, ( i say there was lack of room to grow, no management opportunity after so many years of working there and i actually got a job offer since but the job was a door to door job and i really dont want to do that so being picky is also not a good thing but it does help to look up things like that, better ways to phrase why you left) so that helps for reasons why i left, but still no idea on how to avoid the contact problem.

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