Getting a reference from a company with a no reference policy.
December 18, 2009 8:39 AM   Subscribe

A coworker agreed to be one of my references-awesome! She then informed me that my company has a no reference policy. Should I put her name down?

I managed to line up an interview with a company I would really like to work for. There's just one problem-my current position is my first long-term office job, and they have a no reference policy. I found this after asking a coworker (who, while familiar with my work and how well I'm doing, isn't in my department and doesn't have hiring/firing capabilities) for a reference. . . that she agreed to do. Should I still put her down?

Normally my own answer would be 'no', even though she agreed to give the reference (and is aware of the policy). But I honestly don't think I don't have any other good professional references.

I'm two years out of college. I have been at my current position for a year and a half. Prior to this position, I temped and worked in the food service industry-I'm putting two managers down as my other references, but I honestly don't know how much they remember me. There's only one person I can think of that has left the company in the time I've been there and would know what I do well enough to give me a reference-and I think she may have backslid into alcoholism after being laid off. I'm going to try to call her again to see how she's doing-but the last time I got her on the phone, she wasn't doing so hot.

On top of all that, I temped for my current company for eight months before being hired. I put those months on my resume-since I was showed up to work at the company for those eight months. But if they call whatever service HR gives them to call, they'll say my start date was my second hiring date, and it looks like I'm a big fat liar.

Should I just explain this whole situation to the interviewers and have them decide who they want to call? The no reference policy sounded really weird to me when I first heard about it; I don't know if that's because of my inexperience or because it really is that weird.

I guess I should clarify that by 'no reference policy' I do not mean that they'll give you a good reference but only say hiring and firing dates for bad references; I mean that company policy for anyone asking for a reference is to direct them to an outside company who will verify the hiring and firing dates.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (7 answers total)
It seems like a lot more companies are doing this nowadays.
My sister had the same problem and she went ahead and put them down as a reference anyway. Sure enough, they WOULDN'T give her a reference and she had to cough up a new one. So my suggestion is to put it down their name anyway but stipulate to the HR person that they have a no reference policy and offer to submit another name if that is a problem. So, basically, cover all your bases.
posted by OrangeSoda at 8:51 AM on December 18, 2009

It is pretty common for companies to have these official policies because of liability issues--and it's common for people to give and get references despite the policies. I have been in a similar situation a couple of times and as long as she's agreed to do it I don't see why you wouldn't put her down.
posted by Kimberly at 8:52 AM on December 18, 2009

It sounds like that policy would only apply if the caller inquiring about your reference spoke to HR or your direct boss.

Verify your coworker is OK with it and give a direct number to the coworker as the reference. If your coworker is uncomfortable at all then don't use them as a reference. Nobody should feel they are risking their own job to help you get one.
posted by Babblesort at 8:54 AM on December 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

I always thought that the "no reference" policy applied only to HR departments - they can confirm the dates you worked there and salary, but no more than that. Does the "no reference" policy apply to everyone in the company? Because that's just weird - how is one supposed to supply work-related references in that case?
posted by rtha at 8:55 AM on December 18, 2009

In situations where I've asked a non-boss non-HR-person to provide a reference, I've asked them to be "personal references." They can't verify employment or talk about why you left, but they can say "yep, I worked with Anonymous and they were great." I bet that's okay, but if either of you have doubts you could ask HR to clarify the policy. (You could always approach them and say "a former coworker asked me to be a reference" if you think they'll suspect something.)
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:07 AM on December 18, 2009

A company I used to work for had a no-reference policy, so my former boss just told me to only list his home phone number and not his work number on my references. Worked out just fine.
posted by futureisunwritten at 9:09 AM on December 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

You should be fine, you can list the coworker as a personal reference provided she agrees to give you a non-work number/email where she can be reached. This way your current company incurs no liabilites.
posted by captaincrouton at 9:50 PM on December 18, 2009

« Older How to use the full version of Google Translate...   |   How can I find out if my employer is using a cell... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.