How To Overcome Lack of References In Resumes or Job Interviews

Part 22 of 26 in the Series: Why Can't I Find A Job?
How To Overcome Lack of References
How To Overcome Lack of References

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Here Is A Job Search, Resume & Job Interview Coaching Question

Worked for a private company for 12 years. All 18 other employees quit through time and I was left alone the last two years with the CEO trying to save the company.

I had finally to quit under bad terms. The CEO spoke very highly of my abilities, but I do not dare name him as a reference under the circumstances.

My references are mainly European companies we did business with but no specific individuals.

Any ideas as to how I can address the lack of business references in my resume and interviews?

  • When Are References Needed In The Hiring Process?

    Do you realize that you don’t need to provide references for verification purposes until you actually have a job offer?

    It is kind of putting the horse before the cart to focus on or worry about references before you actually have a job because that is the last step in the hiring process.

    Now, some recruiters and staffing agencies will try and reverse the hiring order by asking for references when you submit a resume!

    You have a few options: You may ask the recruiter to verify the references only after you are given a job offer and you accept it.

    This is important because if you manage to get a few references and then submit your resume to 20 jobs, you don’t want your references to receive 20 phone calls each!

    If you subject your references to that number of phone calls … you are allowing recruiters / staffing agencies to abuse the hiring process and your references will probably feel harassed and ask you to desist from using their names before you even get a job offer.

    So my advice is: treat your few references like they are gold and don’t subject them to unnecessary harassment, abuse or phone calls.

    The other route that you may take with recruiters who ask for references before they offer you a job is to tell them that you will provide that when you have an actual job offer!

  • Don’t Over Think The Reference Process

    From your question, I think that you may be putting an undue burden on yourself and over-thinking the reference and hiring process.

    It used to be that job candidates will include their references in their resume or use a line like … “references available upon request“.

    I would say that is really old school to use that line.

    Don’t mention your references on your resume and don’t even bother to say that you will furnish references upon request because that is just too early in the process.

    There is one exception to this rule. If you are filling an employment application form and you are not using a staffing agency, you may have to include a few references.

    In this situation, I will say that you may include anyone you know professionally.

  • Work Your Professional Contacts

    Do not focus just on managers, include your co-workers and even subordinates in your search for references.

    Join LinkedIn, and take the time to get in touch with every company that you have worked for in your professional life or who you provided services to at any point in time in your career.

    Once you get your contacts sorted out, call and talk to each of them or e-mail them for a reference and you would be surprised how many people will be ready to give you a job reference

    If you work through all your contacts, you will find a few people that will give you references, unless you are an absolute, total jerk … and I know you are not one because jerks don’t hang out at my blog ūüôā

    I believe that if you work through all your professional contacts, you will find at least three (3) people who will be willing to give you a good reference.

  • Don’t obsess over the quality of your reference.

    If your CEO spoke highly of your abilities, you should used him except if he is standing trial for crime, fraud or something crazy like that.

    If the reason why you are hesitating to use your CEO is that your company went bankrupt or became insolvent and then I will say that you should use him because companies go bankrupt all the time and those same CEOS will be hired to start a new company by another group of shareholders … that is how business gets done!

    So, don’t shut yourself out of the hiring game by taking things too personal.

My final advice is this .. don’t carry the responsibility for the failure of your company around with you.

If your CEO wants to give you a good reference, be very grateful for that because a CEO’s reference carries a lot of weight even in the circumstances that you described as long as your CEO is not facing charges for illegal conduct.

So, that is it my friend … free yourself from all that false responsibility and go get the job you want!



This post was submitted by mina_g.


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