I'm being asked to give a brief "testimonial" style text about my current job for use on my employer's new website, specifically relating to a graduate scheme.

I have been in the role almost 2 years and joined on the same graduate scheme however I don't feel I can give a positive testimonial for the role in good conscience.

I'm perfectly happy for them to promote the scheme but I do not want to put my name to any testimonial because I feel the high turnover and low employee satisfaction in addition to outdated technology mix do not make this scheme a good starting role for a graduate. Additionally this role was recently subject to redundancies.

This is probably similar to this question Is it unprofessional to fully speak your mind on job satisfaction with your boss or manager? however it's more about refusing to do something which has been asked of me because I have objections to promoting the company, though this does not fall under the duties of my role as a developer.

Is the right course of action here simply to send an email stating that I do not wish to provide a testimonial, or just swallow my pride and provide one?

This is a job in the UK.

  • 2
    For the testimonial, do they intend to use your name? Does UK law permit them to require you to use your name and likeness without compensation? You may be able to beg off simply on the grounds of "I'm not comfortable being used as advertising". Jul 27, 2015 at 20:22
  • 1
    Yes, the testimonial would take the form of name and photograph accompanied by blurb. You're right that UK law offers an opt out. It could be one way to go but it feels dishonest, in a different way.
    – Underscore
    Jul 27, 2015 at 20:34
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    In a way, I'd argue it's more honest. Assuming you're not in public-relations or some other field that puts you in the public eye on a regular basis, it's perfectly understandable for someone to not be comfortable having their name and image used for promotion. The particular reason is less important. I would never do such a thing at my job, and I don't have any particular complaints - I just don't feel comfortable being that closely associated. Jul 27, 2015 at 20:37
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    "Outdated technology" :- Fantastic chance to work with legacy systems! "High turnover" :- Launchpad to a career in IT! You should get some advice from people who write superficially glowing references.
    – Dustybin80
    Jul 29, 2015 at 9:31

3 Answers 3


Is the right course of action here simply to send an email stating that I do not wish to provide a testimonial, or just swallow my pride and provide one?

You are being asked to help, most likely because you are a good example of the success of their program. However the key here is that you are being asked, not told to provide a testimonial. As such, you are free to decline.

Send a polite email indicating that you would rather not participate.

You don't need to provide any details here. If for some reason, they don't take the hint and attempt to apply some pressure - then you could say that you have mixed feelings about the program and would rather not be the one to promote it.

Note: As @JoelEtherton correctly points out, in some situations you aren't being asked, but are instead being ordered, and you don't have the option of declining. Only you can determine which is happening in your context, based on your knowledge of the company, their culture and practices. If you are actually being told to do this, you need to decide if you can swallow your pride and provide a testimonial, or must make it a bigger deal.

  • That's an assumption about having the option to decline really. Depending on the environment, there have been a lot of times I've been asked if I wanted to do something, and saying "no" wasn't really an acceptable option. Jul 27, 2015 at 19:40
  • @JoeStrazzere: Yep, and why I upvoted. I just wanted to get the comment in because, you know, I have to comment on your answers :) Jul 27, 2015 at 20:01
  • If you can't get out of it, make it completely generic and as uninteresting as possible.
    – Mohair
    Jul 29, 2015 at 16:36
  • I chose this approach and it the result was far better than originally anticipated, they accepted my request after the first email.
    – Underscore
    Jul 30, 2015 at 7:23

I'd suggest starting with "I really don't feel comfortable writing that; there ate good and bad things about how we've done this,and my experience may not have been typical." I'v found that folks writing recruiting material may stop asking if they think they'll get a qualified answer.

If they continue to push, I'd talk to whoever "owns" that program about what its strengths are (you can surely come up with some) and what you see as opportunities for improvement. If put as suggestions for making a good idea better it's hard to take offense ... and they need to know. When run badly this sort of program may send the best candidates elsewhere rather than being good for your company's reputation.

If they can convince you that the problems are being fixed, that resolves the conflict.

If not, and the recruiting folks continue to demand something., and your management isn't willing to shield you... sigh. You could give them a completely honest assessment... Or you can give them something polite and honest but unexciting and uninformative... Or you can accept that this is advertising and give them something positive about the parts of the program you like, which will probably be what they'd edit the others down into anyway.

If you can't decline and must choose between those, I suggest a chat with a manager you trust about how go stay "as honest as the law allows".

Remember that similar programs at other companies are often not much better run.


I have been asked at my prior employer if I wanted to participate in a promotional video. I declined with a simple no and they stopped asking.

You don't have to really give specific reasons. If they ask, "Do you want to give a testimonial on your experience?" And you say, "No I don't." And if they ask, "Why?" Just say, "I'm not comfortable with that sort of thing."

You should only bring up negative things with your boss during review time. If you speak bad about your experience to someone else, that might not work out very well for you especially if you never brought it up and it takes your boss by surprise.

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