I worked at a job for 12 months but I decided to resign after I broke a few company rules which made me look bad, and made my experience working there really awkward. My manager wasn't happy about it and didn't want to give me a reference.

Now I want to apply for the same kind of job at a similar company. (1) If I leave the job on my resume: I won't be able to get a reference, will have to make up some kind of excuse as to why I couldn't get one, and why I left. Surely all of that will make it harder to find a job, yet I need one soon seeing as I'm unemployed. (2) If my job is off the resume: I could say I did some travelling or something.

Which is the better option? I'm feeling desperate since the $ is running out.

  • 7
    Never, ever lie in an interview.
    – BeyondSora
    Commented Apr 9, 2014 at 23:01
  • 2
    Are other former co-workers you could ask to be references for you from that job?
    – JB King
    Commented Apr 9, 2014 at 23:08
  • 1
    Have you asked your previous manager what he or she will say if called? In the US, many companies as a policy don't give either positive or negative references, they just confirm that you title and employment dates. Commented Apr 9, 2014 at 23:13
  • You don't need to use your immediately previous employer as a referee - unless you can't get a good reference from any others?
    – HorusKol
    Commented Apr 9, 2014 at 23:53
  • A manager could fire you and still be willing to act as reference. But you have to ask. Most people are fair, reasonable and somewhat forgiving over time, and are willing to give you an evaluation based on your performance during your tenure as a whole rather than just a couple of bad incidents - unless, that is, you had set them off with some pretty egregious behavior. I also second anyone who suggests that you ask other supervisors and senior co-workers to act as your reference. Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 0:00

1 Answer 1


I don't think you can leave an entire year of work off of your resume and hope to get away with it. A month, sure. A year? No way. People will assume that you were unemployed for that entire time and, well, that in turn makes it look a little bit like you were unemployable.

In any case, if they ask for a reference from that job, can you find a co-worker or someone other than your boss? That's perhaps slightly unusual but it isn't 100% out of the ordinary. Otherwise, if they just ask for general references, by all means provide them from previous gigs and the like. There's no real written rule that says "your 3 references have to come from your last 3 jobs in order" or anything.

The other thing you'd alluded to was what to say if they ask you why you left. You never want to lie or make up a story to an interviewer; these things have a way of getting around, and on top of that maintaining a lie throughout the same interview, let alone your entire career at this company, is not going to be easy to do. Instead, try to provide a neutral answer. "My compentencies weren't a match for my previous organization, but I believe that they'd be a good match for yours." "I didn't feel that I blended in with the culture there." These aren't lies because you're not saying anything, rally. I mean, there's no reason to volunteer that you once streaked across the football field when they ask you about your college either.

  • A lot of times when a company calls for a reference they will ignore the number you give them, call the direct line and ask for the HR dept.
    – kleineg
    Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 13:11
  • Legally, if they're just calling the old employer nowadays all they can ask is how long the employee worked there and if their salary was X. Granted, there is legally and then there is what is actually done, but that's part of the risk, yes. Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 14:51
  • That is not precisely true. It is not illegal per se to ask or answer any question not protected by non-discrimination laws. However because the company is worried (with good cause!) about being sued it will normally only offer the information you stated above. Another question that is asked frequently is "Did they give notice?", on HR representative I talked to said that failure to give notice was a deal breaker (also the answer hints at whether they were fired).
    – kleineg
    Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 17:41

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