Should I feel bad about asking for a reference? Plus more...
I left Company A several years ago and didn’t keep in touch with anyone there (I can be a little antisocial and am just generally not good at keeping in touch with people). A campus student job I’m applying for is demanding references specifically from paid work in order to be hired. I just got back in touch with Company A two days ago simply because I wanted to reconnect and feel like asking for a reference would be like saying “Hey, how are you after all these years. Can I ask you for a personal favor?” and it would make it look like I got back in touch just to ask for a reference.
The only other paid job I’ve had in the last 5 years is with someone that I neither respect nor consider competent and do not want to ever be in touch with again. I feel like everyone I’ve ever worked with in my entire life would give me a stellar reference except this particular crazy person. I would prefer not to use this person as a reference because (1) I don’t think I’d get a positive reference and (2)
I don’t want to be associated with this person at all as people will start to think I’m the same way. I’m basically being told who I need to provide as references, though. I have a lot of friends and professional people I have done volunteer work with that I’d rather use as references but they will not accept them because it isn’t from “paid work”.
What do you think the best way to handle this situation is? I feel like if I try to explain why I don’t want to use this person as a reference, it will turn into a my-word-against-theirs thing that will be unproductive and still make me look bad.
This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.