How do I get a job with no recent references: ask the expert

I have been a stay-at-home mother for eight years.  In the past year I have been looking to get back to work.  Most jobs want at least two references from past jobs which are hard for me to get as I have been out of work so long.  I went for a cleaning job and the woman wanted references that I could not provide No reference, no job; no job, no reference.  Any ideas?

This situation must be absolutely infuriating.

If there is any way at all of getting references from past jobs, then please try.  OK, the references will be very old but oddly enough the people who care a great deal about references usually don’t worry about that.

It’s easy to track down the contact details of past employers – where they still exist! – by searching on Google under their company names, addresses or web sites.

Large and medium-size companies may have kept your employment record on file so they will still be able to provide you with references, even if your line managers have moved on.  Employment records aren’t always as well kept in small companies – however, if you contact them it’s possible someone still working there will be able to get in touch with your previous boss and get him / her to provide you with a reference.

If the employers have gone out of business in the last 8 years, the above ideas won’t work.

If you’re very lucky, you may have kept in touch with someone who’s still in contact with your previous boss – and can pass on your request for a reference to him or her.  Sometimes you may be able to track down a previous boss on LinkedIn, Facebook or whatever, thanks to his or her unusual surname.  Some bosses have a longterm commitment to a particular organisation (eg the Round Table or a charity) and you can track them down through these bodies.

If all of the above ideas don’t work for you, then you’ll have to think about other, more informal, ways of gaining up to date “references”.

Have you by any chance been Criminal Records Bureau checked (eg because you were a volunteer working with children or with vulnerable adults)?  If you have been, then that’s a “good enough” proof of your general honesty for most people.  Anyone employing a cleaner in their home or a shop assistant would feel happier about leaving a CRB checked person unsupervised.

Have you done any temp work as a volunteer or for pay?  If you have, ask the team leaders for open references confirming your administrative efficiency, reliability, willingness to work hard, ability to get on with others, etc and keep these on file.

You could also ask your neighbours and the tradespeople who’ve done work for you to write references saying how long they had known you and how they had always found you a pleasant, helpful individual with a good local reputation.

You may find it easier to get very short term employment as a “temp”.  Ask for a brief reference each time you go “temping” and use the collection of glowing references to help you gain permanent employment.


Comments [1]

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi after not working for a few years to bring up a family ive just been offered a job which I was really pleased about until I couldnt provide any decent refernces im so disapointed its getting harder to prove yourself these days feel let down.


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