After I graduated from a university, I had one job for 18 months and quit it 2 months ago. Since I left on bad terms with the management of the company, if a prospective employer somehow contacted my previous company, he/she wouldn't get a positive reference from the last employer.

I'm looking for a way to remove bad references so that people can evaluate me as objectively as possible.

One way to do it is to just remove the company from my job history but still keep my skills and interests in my resume. My job history can be viewed as my private information, but I'm not sure if employers want to know my job history.

Do you know a better way to protect me from bad references?

Comment 1. Well, I think I can back up my work experiences if I was seriously participating in open-source projects or my own startup. However, I haven't had those experiences, and I can't fake such a large experience obviously.

Comment 2. I don't like how most companies value job history which reveals either successful political influence or how subordinate you were rather than actual talent. When I found my company, I will tell people that we are not interested in your job history but your skills and interests and projects(personal, corporate, and academic) and advise people to hide job history for objective evaluation of skills and interests. Job history is very often a track record of how politically successful you were and not of how much impact you had had in previous jobs. In other words, job history is highly biased by political influence. Hiding job history is like a blind audition. You can read "The Impact of Blind Auditions on Female Musicians" on http://www.nber.org/papers/w5903. It gives a chance to unfortunate job hoppers who have a lot of talents but were unlucky and to people who weren't on the job market for a while but were participating on open source projects or research projects. If I was an employer, I'd rather want to see 'project history' and current skills and interests than 'job history'.

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    What are you going to do if they ask what you've been doing during that gap? Lie? Explain that you were working, left on bad terms, and decided to leave it off of your resume as a result? Neither of those are good options. Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 14:05
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    See also workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/44389/…
    – Relaxed
    Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 14:12
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    If you filter what others can see about you, fine. Just don't lie to yourself and call it objective.
    – Kent A.
    Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 14:34
  • @KentAnderson Job history is very often a track record of how politically successful you were, but not of how much business impact you had had in previous jobs. In other words, job history tends to be highly biased by political influence. To be honest, 'project history' would be more objective than 'job history'. To enable objective evaluation of skills and interests of a person, a blind audition is appropriate. Refer to nber.org/papers/w5903 for the impact of blind audition.
    – user34450
    Commented Apr 25, 2015 at 2:18
  • @Minsky Your question does not explain what the political reasons were that caused you to leave on bad terms. That might actually have helped folks provide more direct answers. If you got cheated by a conniving coworker, I am truly sorry. There are people who don't care about others as they seek their own "success." When you begin to establish your own company, you will need to assess more than just technical skills. You will need to assess cultural fit, and do what you can to prevent the conniving political jerk from driving out talented team members.
    – Kent A.
    Commented Apr 25, 2015 at 4:11

3 Answers 3


No, you're basically putting out a resume as someone with no work experience, so any skills are going to be nebulous (you have no work history to back up your claims). You might as well say you've been saving Mars from Ming the Merciless for the last 20 months (just as unverifiable).

You can request that an employer doesn't contact the former employer without your OK, and you can prep the prospective new employer in advance the reasons why the reference may be less than glowing.

Remember this though, many (or most) employers are afraid of a lawsuit so will likely be neutral (unless you did something grossly wrong like theft or violence). Even if it is likely to be bad, pre-empt it by discussing it at the interview in a positive way (i.e. what you've learned, how you could have handled it better etc).

With the right thought and words you can turn a negative into a positive, no lying required.

Oh and employers ALWAYS want to know your job history. In fact it may become a bigger issue if you leave a job off, then it's discovered in a background check. Far harder to explain away as it looks like you're hiding something.

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    They will also be verifying it during the background check, but this is done usually by a third party company that just cares about did you work there and did you quit, get let go, or fired. Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 14:34
  • Yup, the third paragraph (employers being afraid of lawsuit) is what I would have written.
    – enderland
    Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 14:59
  • I'll also point out that 20 months of unemployment after graduation would look far worse than a job that didn't work out. Some places HR just tosses the resume without reading it if the person was unemployed more than 6 months. I don't agree with the practice, but it is fairly common.
    – HLGEM
    Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 17:54
  • What a good answer. However, I think work history is not the same thing as job history. You can actually work on projects without a job. Most companies aren't actually interested in work history but job history because they value subordinacy over actual talent and most companies can't judge high-end talent.
    – user34450
    Commented Apr 25, 2015 at 2:22

You are free to leave off any job that you feel would not cast you in a positive light. Leaving a near 2 year hole in your resume is definitely bad light

If you are in the U.S. the company will probably just verify employment dates, and you will be free to give 2 good reference to any new company. Especially the first few years after school, its expected that you will hop jobs a little, and 18 months of experience is better than none at all.

Finally, unless you stole something, maliciously hurt someone, or committed a crime on the job, you can pretty easily overcome "leaving on bad terms." If the reason for your departure comes up, say something like

It wasn't a good fit, and I decided it would be better to look for other opportunities.

Never bad-mouth your boss or the company. If pressed for details, stick to the facts, and don't seem vengeful. Also, be ready to shoulder at least some of the blame yourself, and explain what you've learned from the experience.

  • I think you're right about the current generation of companies, and I want to change it with my own company. When I found my own company, I'll do blind auditions, which means I don't want to see job history. I'd rather want to see project history, work history, skills, and interests. Those things don't have to come only from jobs but also from personal projects or academic projects or their own startups.
    – user34450
    Commented Apr 25, 2015 at 2:26

I guess it depends heavily on how resumes and CVs are structured in your country. Where I live, leaving a 2 year gap in your application means you did time in jail, were on drug rehab, had mental problems or something similar akward you don't want anybody to know.

You did work for 18 months. As long as you did not get fired for something that counts as hard facts (stole from your employer for example), any reference is simply your former employers opinion after you left. Yes, maybe it's bad. So what. As long as you are professional about it and don't say negative things, it will be better than having a gap in your history.

Hiding things is suspicious. If you get an interview you will have to explain the gap anyway, not mentioning the time on your CV only gets you so far.