A potential employer is asking for my most recent work references, unfortunately the companies (3) I most recently worked for have policies that refuse references in the format this new employer is asking for. The companies will give a statement of work but not a reference.

How can I tell the new potential employer this without it seeming like I am refusing their request or that I am refusing to give references that may be negative.

  • 4
    Did you tell them what you told us?
    – Mawg
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 8:05
  • 1
    @Mawg Yes, I have told them exactly the situation. Now post interview they have asked (again) me to provide contact details for a past employer that will not give references. It feels as though they are not respecting my boundaries and those of my past employers. Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 18:52
  • All that you can do is to repeat that you are unable to do so, and why. Or, perhaps you could give the 'phone number fo HR, who will confirm that they don't give references Good luck.
    – Mawg
    Commented Dec 23, 2018 at 8:21

2 Answers 2


At the moment you're stuck in a three person conversation (yourself, your new employer, and your old employer), the solution is to connect the other two parties and get out of the conversation.

So explain the situation as you just did to us, then give them the companies' contact information and see what happens. If the new company wants to complain and/or make demands, let them do so to the old company and not you.


I would simply tell them your previous employers have no-reference policies and can provide a statement of work only. In the meantime, you can hit up your old managers and see if they are willing to provide personal referrals. Company policies can not really prevent people from giving referrals as long as they do not do so acting on behalf of the company.

  • 8
    Company policies can (and often do) restrict individuals from giving any kind of referral based on employment at that company. Unless these past managers know you personally, ie outside of work or outside of that specific job then they may still not be able to speak to the potential employer. A better option may be to explain this policy about your immediate 3 prior employers, and reach further back to find legitimate references at older employers. Or, at vendors, clients, or other people you had a working relationship with who weren't employed directly by these past three companies.
    – dwizum
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 14:03

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