I was working for an MSP (IT out-sourcing company) and laid off about 4 months ago. I took a break and am now starting my job search with the summer coming up.

I worked with a number of clients during that time and I want to use them as references. I don't wan't to go through my former company, I don't like or trust them.

Am I allowed to contact those former clients and ask them if they're willing to provide me with a reference?

EDIT: I called one already and she said she'd need to get back to me since she's still a client of my former company. Now I feel like I need to call them and let them know I'm contacting their clients. They're a really paranoid bunch, so I'm concerned about that.

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  • 2
    This is very dependent on your contract with your former employer and not likely something we can answer here. – David K Apr 9 '15 at 17:55
  • The contract didn't mention anything regarding asking for references or contacting clients post-employment. – Batman Apr 9 '15 at 18:02

If you worked on site then they may be willing to provide you with some sort of reference. However they did not employ you so they can not provide an employer reference. If you are looking for someone to communicate that you provided them with excellent service in your role then your client could be a good reference. If this is for a background check then your client is the wrong choice.

If you worked offshore then I would not even try to get a reference from your client. One reason is they have no idea who you really are. You talked with them on the phone and maybe on the occasional video conference but with out the actual one on one in person interaction most people will not make the connection that makes ou a real person in someones mind. This could mean that the things they most remember about you are your failings. Many project leaders on in house teams believe that providing anything but positive reviews leads to reduced quality and productivity out of the offshore team. This means you probably do not have an accurate assessment of what the client actually thinks about you, and since you are no longer an asset of theirs they have no incentive to provide you with a good reference.

Second Offshore assets are many times considered of lesser quality even when that is completely undeserved. Offshore assets often get blamed in meetings because it is an easy shift, even though the problem is often that the in house team failed to communicate properly. But with you not being there to defend yourself or establish personal relationships it is easy for the client team to just accept the assessment and move on. So getting a reference from from an offsite client is probably not a good option.

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You said you don't like or trust your former employer. In addition, they laid you off. I am guessing that your former employer doesn't have a lot of goodwill towards you. And you certainly don't sound like you want to work for them again.

If that is correct, then you don't have to much to lose contacting your former clients if you got a sense from them that they liked your work. If you've worked long enough with someone you should be able to get a sense of what they think of you, be it good or bad. If you don't know what someone thinks of you, chances are you didn't have enough contact with them for them to recommend you.

I don't agree with ReallyTiredOfThisGame about outsourcing - if you are a software developer who works remotely then the quality of your code matters most. If you write good code people generally recognize it.

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  • I do not feel that there is actually anything wrong with the quality of work put out by offshore. But there is a common perception by the onshore teams that offshore teams are of lower quality, especially since they are most often managed by onshore developers who are gathering and documenting the requirements for the work to be produced. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 12 '15 at 23:23

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