When job hunting, many people focus on the job interview or making a cover letter, but references are also a significant aspect of the job search. In fact, some employers won’t interview you until they’ve checked your references.
Still, for many reasons, providing references is not always as simple as it seems. New graduates don’t have much work history from which to draw references. Other job seekers may find that they have one or two past employers who won’t provide a reference, or whom they suspect might not give a good job reference. The Balance Careers notes, ”There’s nothing worse than a negative statement from a professional reference, and a less-than-enthusiastic endorsement is only slightly less helpful. In any case, if you ask for a reference and your boss says no, consider that they did you a favor.”
Either way, what can you do when you don’t have good references from past jobs, or don’t have as many job references as the prospective employer would like?
Use academic references
If you don’t have a lot of work experience, academic references are a great way to bolster your reference list. Academic references don’t have to be limited to professors or teachers; Indeed suggests using a principal, academic advisor, lab instructor, T.A., guidance counselor or even senior classmate.
Of course, employers would prefer references related to work experience, but in the absence of a long work history, academic references might be the next best solution if you need a good job reference.
Get someone you know to give you a personal reference
If the company you’re applying to will accept other documents besides work references, using some personal references could be an effective way around any lack of formal work references. Forbes suggests, “People outside the workplace could vouch for you and your skills with a character reference.
Think about your volunteer work, community groups, place of worship, teachers or landlords.” Of course, this solution will only work if the companies you apply to while job hunting will accept personal references instead of career or academic references.
Use works or documents you’ve produced in lieu of references
If you find you have neither sufficient work references nor personal references, why not try using other documents in lieu of references? Government of Alberta site Alis explains this can include documents you’ve created, projects you’ve involved in, “awards, written feedback, letters of recognition or thanks and written comments.”
Use a new direct-to-hire platform
A new skill-based job platform called Geekbidz invites candidates to rank their skills and then matches them right away with a position that best fits their skills for an on-the-job evaluation.
This platform bypasses the traditional resume and reference process completely and ensures you can be matched with a job that fits your skills without the stress of searching for references. If you’re a bit short on good job references, why not try out this new job searching option?
Re-establish relationships with past connections
With so many social media channels through which to communicate nowadays, it’s easier than ever to reconnect with people from your past.
If you’re starting to browse job hunting sites and find yourself short on references, why not reach out to leaders you volunteered with, even if it was a long time ago? Simply share a few words reminding them of the time you spent with them and your current goals. According to The Muse, “If the connection four or 10 years ago was genuine, it won’t come as a huge surprise that you’re reaching out now.”
If you don’t have good job references, find creative solutions
References are still crucial for many job applications, but if you don’t have enough quality references, don’t despair: there are many creative ways to generate different types of references and substitutes for references, not to mention a brand-new hiring solution that lets you avoid the reference process entirely. Nowadays, finding a job without enough references or without good job references is still difficult, but definitely not impossible.