I am applying to new jobs and need a reference. I've had 5 previous jobs which all resulted in me getting fired from them. If I were to contact any of them (previous employers) no doubt they'd give negative references. That way I'll never get a job

The reason I'm suggesting a recruiter is because I know the guy well, he knows me well, and he's genuinely one of the great ones. Me and him cooperated very well to score this job at this start-up. I was very close to getting that job but couldn't get it. However, we both tried our best and he knew I did my best too.

For that reason, he's seen I'm friendly, good in interviews, and I give my best shot at everything. Would he be a good option to give as a reference?

If not, who else could be a reference if my past 5 employers resent me? I don't have options here. If somebody were to ask for a reference and I'm unable to give one, then that looks very suspicious on my side. At this point I could possibly use a friend or family member as a reference but that looks super suspicious again because I am not giving a reference from an employer.

  • 1
    Is there a colleague at any of your past jobs that would give a positive reference? Is there a professor from wherever you got your degree that could give you a reference (I believe from previous questions that you're a relatively recent graduate)? Your question doesn't make clear to me exactly what your relationship to this recruiter was. Was he recruiting for a startup? In which case he'd say that he had a few hours of interaction with you, you did reasonably well in the interview process, and didn't get offered the job? That doesn't seem very positive. May 5, 2021 at 0:30
  • @JustinCave The recruiter is from an agency, not related to the start-up. Yes we've interacted and although I didn't get the job, I think he could mention what type of person I am May 5, 2021 at 0:52
  • But how many hours did you spend interacting with this recruiter? It would be really, really weird to list a reference that you only spent a few hours interacting with during an interview process where people are expected to be on their best behavior. Even more so for a job you didn't get because a third-party recruiter may not know much more than "the company said MrHunchoJack did OK but they preferred a different candidate." May 5, 2021 at 1:01
  • Your profile says you're in Germany. If that is the case, while I am far from an expert in German employment laws, there are lots of rules around German reference letters that functionally prevent an employer from giving you a negative reference employmentlawworldview.com/… May 5, 2021 at 1:07
  • @JustinCave I'm not actually from Germany. I only listed that to protect my identity, but I am in a European country with good laws that protect employees. I guess you're right, going this approach might not be ideal May 5, 2021 at 1:14

2 Answers 2


Can a recruiter be a reference?


A recruiter facilities the hiring process but has little to do with the actual decision making and has zero credibility in commenting on skills, performance or capabilities.

Third party recruiters are even less qualified since they have a clear conflict of interest: they get paid when you get hired, regardless of whether the hire is a good or a bad one.

To me as a hiring manager, a recruiter as a reference would be a big red flag. I understand that you are in a difficult position but I don't think that a recruiter as a reference would help and it can actually make things worse.


Have you asked the recruiter? Even if he can't he might be able to offer some advice.

If I were you I'd go for not emphasising any of those 5 jobs on your resume and start fresh with a new attitude hoping you have learnt from your past mistakes as to why you were fired.

On your resume you shouldn't need to put references, just put "references available on request". And if required a tutor from your university for technical expertise and a friend for a personal reference should be enough.

  • I've thought about starting clean but at this point nobody would hire me with an empty CV. Nobody wants to hire those fresh out of uni. Especially right now with this awful economy May 5, 2021 at 0:51
  • 2
    @MrHunchoJack fresh out of uni is better than someone who's been fired from the last 5 jobs. That just makes you look unemployable.
    – solarflare
    May 5, 2021 at 1:25
  • 3
    I think that you should worry more about how to avoid getting fired from the sixth job rather than what to do about getting a reference for it. What did you do when it came to references for the fifth (or fourth) job?
    – Steven Lu
    May 5, 2021 at 3:31
  • @MrHunchoJack Mate, the problem isn't the economy or you having an empty CV, its way worse to have 5 jobs where you were fired for poor performance, also why do you have an empty CV ? If you can code some simples stuff as, a website where you can create accounts and add items to your personal shopping list, add it to the CV (and actually do the project dont be lazy). I got my first job as a programmer without University, past jobs or references. I was a kid with a computer that could code and my personal projects where enough for people to give me a chance and teach me, take a bootcamp too.
    – Or4ng3h4t
    Nov 6 at 17:55

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .