My boss and I don't get along. I've decided for my own welfare, it's time to move on. He only employs me grudgingly because of the time and cost of finding a replacement. He will not give a good reference, both because he doesn't like me, and he'll take it as a personal insult that I'm looking for employment elsewhere. If he gets wind that I'm considering searching for a new job, I will be booted out the door.

Of course, I'd like to display that I have been working and doing at least a decent job at my work, and need a reference. I feel my best bet for a good reference is to ask my direct supervisor, who has an excellent relationship with the boss. My supervisor is aware of the issues between the boss and I, and sympathizes with me somewhat. I can't speak on what sort of reference he would actually give me, but it's bound to be leagues and leagues above what the big boss would.

Knowing if my boss caught wind of my desire to move on, I'd get a boot to the backside, is it wise to ask my supervisor for a reference while at the same time asking him to keep it from the boss? Would it be wiser to instead simply not list either of them and rely on my interview to sell myself?

2 Answers 2


In a previous company that I worked at, I requested a good reference from my manager even though it was against company policy. Since I had a good working relationship with my manager, she was kind enough to allow this without notifying her boss.

In that regard, I would say it entirely depends on your relationship with your supervisor. If you get along well, then I would say to discuss it in private and see what comes out of it. However if you don't know your supervisor well or if you two don't get along, then I would forget it.

Also do remember that a co-worker does act as a good reference. While it might not be as good of a reference as your supervisor, it would be the next best thing.

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    +1 for pointing out that it entirely depends on your relationship with your boss. If you're friends, it is fine. Otherwise, think twice. Commented Nov 15, 2014 at 12:48
  • Agreed. In most cases, a prospective employer will not expect a reference from your current employer - because it's safe to assume you want to remain discreet until you have an offer in hand. A co-worker you trust, or a former co-worker who's already moved elsewhere, should be great as references.
    – Ziv
    Commented Nov 16, 2014 at 7:59

When it comes to interviews, you should ALWAYS rely on yourself not on anyone else no matter how good a relationship you have with them.

Work out your references with whoever is knowledgeable about your work performance. And no, you don't list your boss knowing what he will do to you,unless you are a sucker for punishment. And you list your supervisor only if you know for certain what he will say when they ask him.

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