My best manager left my current (and first ever) employer one year ago. I had very strong professional and friendly relations with him and he promoted me for the first time to a managerial role. After he left, there was some re-organizing at the company and I lost some of my status in that process. As a consequence I want to look for other opportunities and wanted to use him as my reference. However, I have tried contacting him for ages and he hasn't responded. I felt it would be wrong to continue pestering him.

Partly I am puzzled as to why he is unwilling to even communicate me, but my question is - what can I do when the best person who could give me a reference... doesn't?

  • Is your former manager still among the living? Does your manager have a foot print in Linkedin or Facebook? Is your contact info out of date? Can you get someone at your former manager's level to be your reference? You might have to go for those references that you can get. Aug 24, 2014 at 23:53
  • Yes, I have him on my social networks and can see his updates. He just ignores me, which is puzzling as I remember to single instance where we were at odds. I do no other people in the company, but I don't have as good a relationship with them as I had with my former boss. Aug 24, 2014 at 23:59
  • 5
    Never count upon a single reference; have others available. Your former boss may simply not be comfortable acting as a reference; some folks aren't.
    – keshlam
    Aug 25, 2014 at 0:39
  • how long ago was the employment for the reference you are trying to get
    – Brandin
    Aug 25, 2014 at 7:23

1 Answer 1


Don't fight it. Get the references you can get from other people. Give it some time, and try him again. The harder you try, the less likely he is going to respond to you if he decides that your attempts to get in touch with him are annoying him.

As for you, it's not the end of the world if you don't get a reference from him: you were good enough for him to promote and your promotion is on record - that's what matters. You may be able to get at most one reference from him, but you've got plenty of talent where that came from, and you can dig into your talent resources again and again.

You know how good you are, so getting back to being a manager will be only a matter of time for you. If you don't have him as a reference, you still have the best reference of all: you as a capable individual. And you having you on your side is what's going to get you upwards. Give a silent thanks to your former manager for giving you the opportunity. And thank yourself for taking it and doing all the heavy lifting.

  • 1
    +1 - At some point this is not going to be a good reference either because he doesn't think the OP did a great job or this former manager just doesn't make an effort to follow-up on these types of things.
    – user8365
    Aug 25, 2014 at 16:29
  • This, and always keep a spare reference in your back pocket. If you usually provide three, cultivate a fourth to use in case one doesn't respond.
    – Blrfl
    Aug 25, 2014 at 19:49

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