can I use my ex as a job reference? by Alison Green on August 26, 2009 A reader writes: On the application I have been asked to return immediately before what appears to be my final interview, it asks for three references that are not relatives or former employers. I would like to use my ex-wife, but I am concerned if this may be acceptable from the eyes of a recruiter. I am not one who normally keeps good contact with former co-workers or even long term friends. My ex who I have known nearly 20 years is very professional and would give me an excellent reference despite our marital problems. She is well aware of my work ethic and technical abilities. What are your thoughts? Absolutely not. Using an ex looks really unprofessional. It’s also assumed that she’ll be biased in your favor, so any reference she provides isn’t useful. Frankly, I don’t get the point of asking for references that aren’t professional ones — I think “personal references” are just about worthless when you’re evaluating someone for a job — but since they’re asking for non-employers, you should give clients, non-manager colleagues, or people who know you in your community. I once called a reference I’d been provided with and discovered during the course of the call that the person was my candidate’s ex-boyfriend and had never worked with her professionally. Not only did I disregard his feedback, but it made me wonder about her judgment and professionalism. Don’t do it. You may also like:why do employers ask for personal references rather than professional ones?don’t list your spouse as a job reference (and don’t lie about it if you do)should I be worried that my manager doesn’t return calls for references?