Three Reasons Employers Give Good References for Fired Employees

Did you just get fired? Or can you see the writing on the wall? If you answered yes, you might be losing sleep over what kind of reference your boss will give to prospective employers.

Leniency Bias

It might help to know that employers have been found to have a leniency bias when giving references for former employees.

They do this because:

  1. They don’t want you to sue them.
  2. They want you to get a new job.
  3. People are more loyal to people they know than people they don’t know.

Don’t Worry

If you’re reading this because you’re worried about getting fired, your odds of a good reference might be better than you think. Your boss might even give you a good reference just to help you move on. I’ve seen it done.

A Possible Silver Lining

I’ve also seen a senior executive recommend a fired employee to another company. The position was a higher level job.

The person who got let go ended up fitting in, doing a great job, and making more money than the manager who fired them. Getting fired, good luck or bad luck? Who knows?

I write executive resumes and LinkedIn profiles. Save time. Get hired. Email me at for more information.

Image: Fotolia/stanciuc
Updated June 2017

© 2014 – 2017, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.


Comments 1

  1. I think more often than not also it’s about showing a good face and corporate image, as much as giving people a fresh start.

    However, if an employee IS poor at his or her job, isn’t it being dishonest to give them a glowing reference? I’d think it depends on providing a case of his or her personal strengths.

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