/ Asked by Sandra
After a year of working a part-time professional position, the employer fired me after I attempted to talk with Human Resources about my manger and supervisor lying on my performance review. During my termination meeting, the employer said that I violated a rule because I questioned two other people who could provide an accurate account of my character. The employer told me that although I gave excellent service, I did not fit the culture, and that my act of asking questions was disrespectful. Additionally, the company has an unwritten policy that no one else besides my supervisor or manager can serve as a reference. I have enough experience as a new professional to qualify for similar positions in my industry, but I cannot use anyone from my former employer to recommend me or attest to my skills and experience. How can I leverage my experience, skills, and character to gain employment in my industry without support from my former employer?
Answered by Sharon, Hiring Expert at Mutual of Omaha, on Monday, August 11, 2014
Our company has a policy that we can't provide references to current or former employees either. Based on your departure situation, you may not want to use them as a reference honestly. Do you have any volunteer organizations that you serve on that could provide you with a reference? Or perhaps a high school or college professor? Many employers don't ask for references because of potential libel or slander issues. In your interview, you should really emphasize what you did - the experience and skills you gained. That's what a future employer will be looking for.  
Answered by Megan, Hiring Expert at Cardinal Health, on Wednesday, August 13, 2014
I would recommend utilizing individuals within other organizations you may take part in that have had exposure to your work ethic or work ability. These could be organizations such as a non-profit you may volunteer for, a church organization, an educational organization, or a trade organization. You could also use co-workers or managers from previous positions you have held. If you have a Linked In account, I would recommend browsing through your connections and find someone you may not have had in mind but would be able and willing to be a reference on your behalf. Companies may or may not even ask for a personal or professional reference so this may not be a concern as you’re going through the interview process. I would also review your resume and find areas you can spotlight with your previous work experience, certifications, or participation in organizations.
Answered by Steve, Hiring Expert at Caterpillar Inc., on Friday, August 15, 2014
First, I will say that you losing your job under the circumstances you described sounds like retaliation by the company.  The companies with the highest degree of integrity have official policies that prohibit any kind of retaliation.  The fact that this company terminated you in this fashion speaks to their integrity, or lack thereof.  That being said, there are many other options that you can utilize to provide professional references for you.  If you happen to be involved in any professional organizations, your peers here can be used as references.  Also, if you are involved in any volunteer activities, you can use colleagues from these activities.  Such references can speak to your character.  But also keep in mind, that past references may not even be necessary from some companies.  If your time at your previous company comes up in an interview, it is important to be up front and honest about the situation, and speak to it from your perspective.  This too will speak your character.
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