I work as an intern at a large scale company and am coming to the end of my contract. I sacrificed a lot to take this placement so put a lot of effort into making a name for myself in the company. Some of the ways I have done this is volunteer to lead projects, training new members and always being prepared to put in extra hours when necessary.

Due to this work ethic, I made a very good impression on a senior member of staff and have a positive, professional relationship with this person. I was thinking about requesting a reference from this individual but I have an issue:

The majority of my colleagues have stated that this individual has treated them with very little respect and have mention numerous occasions where the senior staff member has been unreasonable in his or her requests. I have seen that at times the senior staff member can be very cut-throat but haven't personally experienced the behavior they have suggested. This may be due to the fact that I'm an intern and they want to promote the workplace program.

My dilemma is that it would be brilliant to receive a reference from someone at such a senior level but I'm worried that it could have a negative effect if this bad reputation is also present outside my company.

Does anyone have any experience in this type of situation or can provide me with some points to consider?

3 Answers 3


The way I see it, a good reference is a good reference.
Even if the person who checks it knows that this guy is a bit...meh, they will likely be surprised to see such a positive reference from them, and may consider you even more!

I can understand how you might not want to be associated with this 'jerk' in the eyes of a new employer, but I think your personality should speak for itself in the interview, and any suspicions that you are yourself a jerk will be quickly dismissed!

  • 2
    +1 for the first paragraph. A positive review from an unreasonable and disrespectful person is more impressive than a positive review from someone who thinks everyone is their own special snowflake. Commented May 14, 2015 at 16:12
  • aha! LOVE the way you phrased that!
    – piggy
    Commented May 14, 2015 at 21:35
  • Never thought about future employers considering me more given the facts. Thank you for your answer :)
    – JPM
    Commented May 15, 2015 at 9:23
  • 1
    An addition, unless you've actually experienced this person treating someone badly, it's all hearsay and not really worth considering.
    – Cronax
    Commented May 18, 2015 at 9:33

The only situation under which a good reference of a jerk hurts you is if the person checking your references knows the jerk. Most people checking references will probably not personally know the person and will put more weight into their job title and what they say than in who they are.

If it is a small town or a niche industry you may want to consider someone else as there may be a much higher chance for the reference checker to know the jerk and disregard what they say.

  • 2
    Steve Jobs wasn't exactly a pleasant guy to worker under back in his day, but a beaming reference from him would likely have been a godsend for a job seeker. So long as the guy isn't a pariah due to eating babies and kittens, the reference is a good thing.
    – Cloud
    Commented May 14, 2015 at 16:27
  • Even if he eats babies and kittens, if his technical judgment is respected the recommendation should help .. as long as he doesn't say you're just as much of a nice guy as he is. ;-)
    – keshlam
    Commented May 15, 2015 at 1:21

A good reference from a boss is a good thing. Don't worry that this senior manager isn't the most well liked guy around - He has a high-powered job, so somebody likes him.

Unless the guy is convicted of insider trading, or some other serious crime, any hiring manager will appreciate a reference from a higher up, and will understand that sometimes being a manager can mean being the bad guy.

  • What about if the manager or boss is an ex-convict with pending court cases, has conned so many people, and is fleeing the law? Commented May 19, 2016 at 11:04

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