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As part of a recruitment process, the recruiter asked me for references after the interview. However, I only have one previous work experience, which is also my current job (first one since I left school). I don't want to publicly advertise that I'm considering leaving this job for another, so asking colleagues for references is a tricky situation, which the recruiter understood perfectly.

As I didn't want to end this here, I remembered that there are reviews of my work on some freelancing site, as I did a bit of freelancing during my studies. Thing is, out of 50 reviews from projects owners, 48 are very good, 1 is bad, 1 is very bad. These are reviews ffrom more than 2 years ago and I was only a student doing underpaid projects to be able to go out from time to time. Should I forward my profile on this site to the recruiter or not ? Note that I don't think there is any easy way to find this profile without knowing the username, as I only use this username on that website.

Concerning the offer, it's a software development position with a required 3 to 5 years of experience, so not fresh out of school, but still a junior position. The company itself is quite small, approximately 50 people, and the recruitment is handled by a recruitment firm. The first interview went well and my resume is going to be transmitted to the potential future employer.

  • Do you remember why you got a very bad and a bad reference ? – Gautier C Jun 22 '16 at 8:46
  • This is a long time ago but the references both mention disappearing for a few days, the difference between the two being that the very bad one mention taking the initial milestone payment (which was part of the process ot the site : the project is awarded, the initial milestone payment (5% I think) is released). This can be true, but can also be bad mouthing as this site is reputation based and I honestly don't remember. – Loufylouf Jun 22 '16 at 8:53
  • Where you still asked to provide references? Is your current job your first professional employment out of school/college? – Lilienthal Jun 22 '16 at 9:03
  • @Lilienthal Why are you instead of Where I suppose ? – Gautier C Jun 22 '16 at 9:09
  • @Loufylouf you will anyway be asked about those bad references. So you have to prepare for this question. That's all. – Gautier C Jun 22 '16 at 9:12
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Two solutions here :

You don't speak about those reviews

You will not have any references for the new job, which may be bad for your profil and end up with you not getting the job you wanted. But in entry level job, references are considered a bonus, but the importance depends of the company.

You speak about those reviews

Overall, you did a good job and have a lot of good reviews. But a recruiter will always ask about bad ones. If you are prepared to answer any question about those bad reviews, and you have a proper analysis of the failure (don't say it's the client fault, think about your implication on the project, and how could you have improved it), they will be no problem, and it will be a great asset, showing that you are professional and not just the average new employee.

EDIT : I see you are french. Lucky you, I am too. In France, references are considered as an asset for a job, and what I said is applicable. But it is not as important as it used to be(except for a academical jobs), so if you don't want to show those reviews, because you don't know how to handle those bad reviews, don't do it, the impact will not be that bad.

Maybe you could ask the recruiter if this is a big deal not to have references ?

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    You are correct about the US. References vary from field to field, but in general aren't as important as they used to be. In IT, they are nearing irrelevance as US labor law can get you into big trouble if you say anything bad about a past employee, so since everyone gets a good reference, they have little to no value. – Richard U Jun 22 '16 at 12:06
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    @RichardU thanks for the imput, I have edited my message ;) – Gautier C Jun 22 '16 at 12:19
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Consider this:

You're browsing the app store, and see an intriguing game with 4.8/5 Stars. Would you dismiss the app just because there are a couple of unhappy users, or would you give it a shot, because there are so many happy users ? Same goes for your potential employer.

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    It depends on what the bad review said. For example if the review gave a technical description of a app's hidden malware and explained why and how they found it, I would be more inclined to believe it than the simple, "This app is horrible!" When I review something I always go for negative reviews first before the positive to determine if any fundamental problem exists in the service. – Dan Jun 22 '16 at 13:14
  • Obligatory XKCD: xkcd.com/937 – BittermanAndy Dec 13 '18 at 10:48
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Since it is not feasible to use references from your current job site you should search for other character reviews. For example get a review from past professor or advisor at the school where you got your training. Consider getting a review from some an employer that had given you a part time job whilst you were in school.

I would avoid bringing the freelance reviews up as references. There are numerous problems with this. First off you cannot filter and select like you would with the types of individual reviews that I suggested above. Secondly there are always questions raised about freelancing when you seek full time employment in a new position. Virtually all hiring situations are looking for someone 100% and more committed to the job and employer. Past freelancing could very well lead to questions as to if you would maybe be doing that again while working at the new job. This is such a big deal with many employers that you are often asked to sign and agree to a 100% commitment contract with the new employer.

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Use all of the reviews. Own up to the bad ones. Not only do you have a really good review record but if you actually talk about the 2 bad ones out of 50 and say why they were bad, that is a great sign of maturity and accountability. If I were hiring and someone showed me that track record and spoke to the bad reviews first - I would be highly impressed.

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