10 Things To Do If You Have No Job Referees

No Job References? 10 Things You Can Do

Finally, your CV has landed you a job interview and you outperformed during the interview. You impressed the recruiter and are confident that you’re one of the top contenders. However, there’s only one thing standing in the way – you have no job references.

Perhaps you left your previous job on bad terms. Or your company closed down and your former bosses have either moved on to new jobs or retired. You may have been self-employed or took a career break and are now getting back in the workforce. Or if you’re currently employed, you simply don’t want your supervisors to know you’re looking for a new job

Whatever your reasons, not having quality professional references can cost you your dream job. Some recruiters will not hire you before checking with the 3 referees you provide.

Follow these 10 steps to get yourself quality job references or get the job you want without having any professional references.

Hunt Down Your Former Referee

Have you exhausted all your options for tracking down your previous referee? If you were in good terms with your old boss but lost touch with them, pursue them on LinkedIn, Facebook or any other relevant social platform. Get their contact information, explain your situation and request them to serve as your job referee. Hopefully, they will be happy to help.

Request Colleagues

Most recruiters prefer to check with your direct bosses and line managers from your most current position. However, if your co-workers are able to provide glowing reviews about your work ethic and achievements, then they’re the second best alternative. Ensure that whoever you select is able to rave about your performance more than your personal character.

Seek References From Clients

If you interact with clients daily, you’ve possibly forged a positive relationship with a few of them. Approach one of these clients and ask them to be your referee. If you made a remarkable contribution to them, request them to write a letter detailing this. Remember, they’ll need to focus on your competencies, not the fact that you’re a polite person.

Use Personal References

Your network of friends, family and acquaintances can serve as your personal references in case you don’t have professional ones. Preferably, it should be someone you’ve worked for or with even if it’s in an unofficial capacity. Pick someone who’s seen you in action and can sing praises about your abilities. Religious leaders, Social/Sport Club leaders, mentors, former students or friends/family you’ve worked for can be great character references.

Work With Academic References

If you’re a recent graduate with little to no experience under your belt, character and academic references will suffice. Reach out to one of your favorite teachers or professors and propose they serve as your referee. If they agree, you can also ask them to write you a recommendation letter bearing testimony to your hard work.

Provide Written References

If you have nobody to attest to the fact that you’re a star employee via phone or email, you can submit written references. In case you didn’t get a reference letter, your employment confirmation letter can serve as proof of recruitment.

If you’re discharged from duty due to cutbacks, ask for a reference letter as part of your severance arrangement.

Let Your Portfolio Speak For You

Your body of work can at times speak louder about your abilities than a referee ever would. Awards, journal articles, essays, reports, blogs, certificates of recognition and customer reviews can excellently demonstrate your skills, abilities and attitude.

Therefore, consider using your work, awards and documents to sell your proficiency and performance.Make sure you take out any confidential information from the documents before sharing.

Show Previous Performance Evaluations

Most jobs will entail a performance review at some point and a written evaluation will probably be shared with you. In the absence of professional references to substantiate your experience, share a copy of this evaluation to a prospective employer. You can also use client testimonials, customer thank you letters and awards to vouch for your credibility.

Volunteer Or Freelance

Volunteering is a great way to grow your bank of good references. The supervisors and coordinators in the organization could give you the positive feedback you need to jump-start your career.

Alternatively, consider doing short term stints or projects in exchange for good job references. Short term temporal or casual work will help you get the fresh, recent referees you urgently require in order to land your next best job.

Ask For A Longer Probation Period.

Offer to work for an extended probation period so that you can prove yourself. You may have to be hired as a contractor or a freelancer instead of a permanent employee. However, if you prove yourself during this period, they will have no option but to hire you full time. Plus, you might just have landed yourself your next referee.


Sometimes the best CV, a brilliant cover letter and even the most impressive interview skills are not good enough to convince a recruiter to hire you. Without the right people to sing your praises and verify your skills, work ethic and experience, you could lose an opportunity of a lifetime.

If you don’t have current professional references, search through your academic and social circles to find people who can vouch for you. Or use your portfolio of work and testimonials to demonstrate your abilities. If all else fails: volunteer or freelance in order to build your bank of good job references. Alternatively, you can accept extended probation periods in order to prove yourself.

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