0

So the backstory is as follows, I worked at a big company for a long time and quit rather angrily. No harsh words were said, simply demonstrated my disappointment when I was refused a promotion. During my notice period I requested a recommendation letter from my boss about 4 times, to which he said he will get around to it but never did it.

The main reason I left, and why I couldn't stomach waiting with my quitting was because I was denied the promotion I was promised because I was told that I didn't get the promotion because I was hospitalized having surgery during the time that promotions were given. Following my quitting I spoke to a lawyer and attempted to file a law suit, after several hostile back and forth letters we decided to not go to trial. Potential gain (Which in this case would only be the difference in money that the promotion would've granted times the months up until I quit) would've been very little compared to the cost of the trial.

It's all in the past, however now a new potential employer is requesting a detailed recommendation letter (containing responsibilities, tasks etc') which I don't have. I don't feel comfortable now reaching out to my former boss with any request of this nature because despite ending employment on good terms, the following law suit was directed majorly at him.

The question is how to approach the new employer, how to explain the situation of not being able to supply the letter without making him think less of me as an employee, or worse, asking me to confront my previous boss again.

  • For anonymity reasons, I prefer not to disclose location. – InterP Oct 21 '17 at 2:23
  • When you say “you decided not to go to trial” is that because you settled for a sum of money and signed a release? Or what happened? The reason that I ask is that if I were in your shoes, and my former employer wanted to settle out of court, I would ask that as a condition of settlement that they provide you with a glowing reference letter. You might be able to get your lawyer to reach out to them about this if you haven’t actually waived any right to sue. – RibaldEddie Oct 22 '17 at 3:14
  • No deal was made, I got nothing – InterP Oct 22 '17 at 6:04
  • well I don’t know the details of your situation, if you didn’t have a case then there’s not much you can do. Given the behavior you’re describing here on the part of the employer, they don’t sound like decent people and you were right to quit. So good on you for having the courage to do that. – RibaldEddie Oct 22 '17 at 6:07
  • @InterP with a country its unlikely that we can help as employment custom and practice varies so much – Neuromancer Oct 22 '17 at 14:56
6

The question is how to approach the new employer, how to explain the situation of not being able to supply the letter without making him think less of me as an employee, or worse, asking me to confront my previous boss again.

If letters of recommendation are standard in your field of work, your lawyer did you a serious disservice by not advising you how you should deal with the need for one. If it were me, I'd go back to my lawyer and ask what they recommend now. (And I might consider changing lawyers in the future).

Aside form that your only choice now is to explain to prospective employers that you don't have such a letter.

If you cannot convince yourself to go back and attempt to get a letter now, then you will need to hope that potential employers will waive the requirement, or that you can find an employer who won't ask for one.

  • 1
    Good answer, straight to the point with no nonsense as usual. :) I see that the OP should probably fire his lawyer right away because if a recommendation letter is a standard requirement when applying to a new job, the lawyer should have advised the OP to get that first before starting the volley of "hostile" letters. (Actually, he should have probably advised against any kind of hostility if he wasn't sure where that was going, but I digress.) It sounds to me that the OP could have asked the boss for the recommendation letter even now, if not for that attempted lawsuit. – Masked Man Oct 23 '17 at 1:06
  • This answer doesn't really help me in the sense that knowing now that I should've agressively requested the letter when I quit would've been the right choice. This might help me if I were to quit again in the future, but for the current problem it is irrelevant as a lawyer can't force a recommendation letter out of my previous employer. – InterP Oct 24 '17 at 7:31
1

The question is how to approach the new employer, how to explain the situation of not being able to supply the letter without making him think less of me as an employee, or worse, asking me to confront my previous boss again.

You say,

I requested a recommendation letter from my boss about 4 times, to which he said he will get around to it but never did it.

However this does not mean you did bad work. You then start to list and explain the projects you were on, how you can have your coworkers vouch for your worth ethic and excellence.

You state the truth and offer alternatives to your new employers to vet your qualifications.

  • This makes the employer understand that he was just busy, and if I approached him now he would give me one, I'm opening myself for a request to do just that. Which then if explained that I cant would be worse since I already dug myself a hole. – InterP Oct 22 '17 at 6:08
  • I'm going to do this, and when asked why I didn't pressure it further I'll simply mention that I had already other prospects in mind and they didn't require it. – InterP Oct 24 '17 at 7:33
  • Not sure who “they” is but I wouldn’t recommend lying if that’s your intention. My recommendation is to state the truth and offer better alternatives. – Frank FYC Oct 24 '17 at 7:41
  • they being the other prospects, and it isn't a lie. Sometimes in life there aren't better alternatives, this is one of those cases. It's fine :) – InterP Nov 1 '17 at 12:12
1

This is a bad deal. I have had similar experiences. Here, the legal intervention and hostile communications might be the last word. I wrote the rest of my perspective to you before I re-read your letter... Because they can cost a significant amount in lost income or ruin future career moves, quitting mad or being unable to get a letter are to be avoided. "Eyes on the prize" -protect yourself. Don't let the last thing they see of you be your anger.

Now you need to find opportunities to tell them the truth. I'm thinking of saying to Former Employer, "I was so disappointed at not getting the raise. I saw myself continuing to grow with the company and..."(mention any specific projects and teams you were working on). You need them to remember a human face on this interaction.

Your potential new employer needs data.

Do you still have your original Offer Letter, or on-boarding paperwork? Do you have the ad you responded to? Can their HR provide this? If you used an agency, can they provide the job posting? How about finding any previous communications about projects you were working on (be careful you're not disclosing any company IP) Can a co-worker, HR or other employee write a letter for you?

One employer I parted with said that it wasn't that they wouldn't write me a letter, they didn't have time to sit down and compose it. This person said, "Send me what you want it to say and I'll sign it." Not the farewell I was hoping for- I'd rather have had them recount some of my qualities or contributions- but we got the task to Product, and that was what mattered to both of us.

Before you ask the former employer if this is an option, write up what you want to feature of your work there. Edit it to use a businesslike tone to briefly relate your highlights, in the third person. Ask if the letter would be helpful for the boss or their admin or HR to use, and get their permission before you send it.

If these people refuse, you'll have to go with re-editing your letter to be in the first person and then give this to the new boss. Explain that you weren't able to secure the letter from the company but -"Here, I've put together the data you wanted."

It will be vital that the new company sees you telling the truth and that you understand how work "works," and that you put your energy into creating this time-sensitive solution. If you're sincere, this effort may count for more than that standard letter would have. Add to this, other character and work references from outside the company. Good luck!

  • Thanks for the answer, I've had one written by a colleague and if they ask why a colleage I'll simply mention that at the time I requested the letter from my boss 4-5 times and he was too busy to write one. – InterP Oct 24 '17 at 7:28

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.