Question from job seeker with no current referencesDear Ronnie Ann,I received a job offer a few weeks ago. The employer is having issues because I do not have any recent references. I have been a stay at home mom for almost 6 years and before that I owned a small company for 7 years prior. They knew this during my interview.I was in the financial field so it is against privacy policies to give out old clients names for reference. The only other work related reference I had was an employee, but she is also my sister in law. I tried calling old contacts from 6 years ago and they are no longer in the business.I asked the employer if I could provide personal references or neighbors, and they said no. I have not done volunteer work since I have been home with the kids, so there is not any recent volunteer references to use.Can they pull the offer? I have done everything they have asked.Thanks. ~ Tina
My response to Tina, with a few extra thoughtsHi Tina!Oh how frustrating to be so close, and yet not have the final piece in place. Especially since they understood your circumstances up front.It sounds like you’ve tried most of the things I would recommend. But just so you know, some employers would accept references from former colleagues, even if they are no longer in the business. And while they certainly have the right to pull the offer, I am hoping they won’t. Here’s what I’d try:
- First, I would ask to speak to the person you connect to most strongly there, and reaffirm just how much you want the job … and that you will do your very best for them to show that they made the right choice to hire you. Explain your situation again and mention that you do have some former colleagues (try to find one or two using Google or old connections), who can still speak about you in a work capacity even if they are not in that business now.
- And if this isn’t good enough for the employer or you just can’t find even one of your former colleagues, then ask the person at the company for help finding something else to make them comfortable with hiring you. Again, promise to do your best to show that his or her faith in you is completely warranted.
- If that fails, then perhaps you can ask that they give you a chance to prove yourself with a short probation period. Employers have a right to be suspicious without good references, but you can try to calm their nerves and give them some extra assurance by showing them who you are as an employee. Then THEY can be your recent reference!
- If that fails, suggest that you can work for them freelance for a while – a try & buy situation – and then see how that goes.
What you can do to make sure this doesn’t happen to you
- Have a solid list of references ready. If there are one or two people from your current workplace on it, all the better. Three references are usually enough, as long as they can speak knowingly about you in a work capacity and can be reached.
- Solid references are people you worked with (recently if possible) or volunteered or interned for. If you are just out of school and haven’t had any work or volunteer experience, perhaps a teacher or a coach or project leader or maybe even someone you’ve helped extensively in some way (such as in a caretaker role) can vouch for you.
- Check with each reference to verify that their contact information is current and to make sure that they are available and willing.
- Use the references sample (find link below) if you don’t already know how to create a professional reference sheet.
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