I was put into a performance improvement plan by my employer, which was due to several internal politics in the company, and in the end they concluded that I am no more suitable as an employee because I do not talk much.

After I was given formal notice of 30 days by the HR, he told that I can refer him as well as my manager to any of the future companies that I will be trying to get job in.

During the PIP, no matter how much effort I took to complete the set targets and delivery workables, this manager would find an explanation to conclude during the review that the work I did was inadequate. And in the final review, he bluntly said I didn't have consistency at all without even checking my finished product.

So my question is, is it safe to give the names of the people who were the reason I lost my job as reference ? Will these guys try to screw up my future even after I leave this company ?

  • 6
    I have given good references about people I fired. Nice guy, smart, hardworking, good at a few things that we don't do much of, terrible at our bread and butter. For a firm that doesn't care about the same tasks, a great fit. Your managers might do the same. Or they might be unpleasant mean people. How can we tell? Jun 19, 2015 at 13:21
  • @KateGregory Can you give an idea of "what" kind of people whom one can refer from previous company?
    – SoundStage
    Jun 19, 2015 at 13:27
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    Not really, no. If you think they like you and are hoping you get a good job where you can use skills you have that aren't helping you do this job well, you can use them as a reference about those other skills. If you think they dislike you or are nasty people, then probably choosing them as a reference isn't wise. My whole point is that I can't tell which is the case for you. Jun 19, 2015 at 17:02

3 Answers 3


So my question is, is it safe to give the names of the people who were the reason I lost my job as reference ? Will these guys try to screw up my future even after I leave this company ?

I have given good references for folks who I have fired in the past, when the reason for firing was just a poor fit for an otherwise hard worker.

In every case when I'm asked, I always indicate that I will be honest when serving as a reference. I don't lie about the good parts, nor about the bad parts. And if I don't think I'd be a good reference, I tell the individual so.

The only way you'll know if this makes sense for you is to ask the people involved face-to-face. (You always ask people for their permission before you use them as references anyway, right?)

Talk with them. Ask if they would be willing to be a good reference, then listen carefully to the way they respond. If they are enthusiastic and understanding, then go ahead and use them as references. If they are hesitant at all, don't use them.

If these people "who were the reason" are at all bitter or adversarial, then you run the real risk of them giving you a poor reference. Cross them off your list.

  • 1
    I might add that when you ask their permission to use them as a reference, you should ask directly if they feel they can be a good reference. Sometimes people can like you and hope for the best for you, but can't in good conscience give you a glowing recommendation. Usually if you ask directly, those folks will admit that you might want to find someone else.
    – ColleenV
    Jun 19, 2015 at 14:35

This is likely to be a case of "there's no right answer". Getting fired for not performing well is not going to look great on your resume. Given what you've described about your manager's feedback, you were not a great employee for the role he needed you to fill.

You can't know what's going on in his head without talking to him. You really could ask him - "It's always a good policy to be able to provide my former manager's reference, and I really appreciate your offer. However, given the way our relationship ended, I'm a bit concerned about what you'd tell anyone doing a reference check... what would you say about me in the reference check? How would you address the fact that you fired me?" Your concern is understandable, and if he's willing to be a positive reference, he may have already thought this out - the same way that Kate Gregory had in her comments.

If you're not comfortable having that type of a blunt talk with your former manager, I'd say:

  • Figure out what you think looks worse - not providing your former manager as a reference, or providing a potentially damaging reference
  • Realize that there is a loophole - not every reference is always checked by every company - I'm not a gambler, but it's a viable point.
  • You WILL have to address the fact that you were fired. It's better if you do it yourself rather than let the hiring company find out by doing a reference check.

Lastly - reading your summary of what went on, I think you want to get some mentoring or talk to a politically savvy friend about the situation and find a different way of describing the end of your last employment - it sounds from your description like you had some real shortfalls in your behavior and in the end, your manager made a direct decision relevant to your performance, but you also cite politics and I don't see you owning your own part in the problem. If I were interviewing you, this would send up red flags. I'd hire someone who had been fired - but I wouldn't hire someone who doesn't seem to have learned from the situation why he was fired and how he could change his behavior in the future to avoid the problem.

  • I did not explain the circumstances that led to the PIP in my question, as I didn't want to make this post any more bigger. In short, they told me that I am not talking the people around me as I am too focused on my own work when I have any work, which they feel is negative attitude.
    – SoundStage
    Jun 20, 2015 at 3:40

he told that I can refer him as well as my manager to any of the future companies that I will be trying to get job in.

I don't see why they would told you this if they don't want to be a god reference, unless they are sadistic or you have done something really wrong to them.

However, if you'd like to know what they would told about you as a reference, I think you might simply ask them.

If you think you can't trust their answer, and that you really need to have their reference, then you have an hypothesis to verify, whether they would provide you a good reference or not. As you probably did in your software job, when you want to verify an hypothesis and you miss some data, you do a measure. In this case, it means that you ask a friend (preferably who has a role of manager or HR) to contact them, as if you had send a resume or done an interview. Then you'll know what they tell about you, and most important than good or bad, if what they tell is relevant to what you say about yourself during your interviews.

If they say that you're a nice colleague, very smart but sometimes not so well organized, and you spent most of your time during your interviews to say that organization is a key point, it will not be good for you neither.

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