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I have no references! Help!

Career Exploration The Hiring Process

QUESTION: Regarding references on a resume, what should I do if I have not maintained any relationships with co-workers from previous job (laid off over 6 months ago) and I do not have any close friends who could speak about my character? Basically - I have no one! Answer: It’s hard to believe you truly have no one. Let’s think about this. Could you get in touch from anyone from the previous job, even though you haven’t up till now? What about a job before that? Often friends are not your best references anyway. The same goes for family members, for the same reasons. They may not know your field, or what will make you valuable to your fortunate next employer. Also, the employer will probably assume that a friend or family member has a vested interest in your being employed. (Read: they don’t want to have to lend you money.) The bottom line is that you use what you have, and don’t worry about what you don’t have. Do you have a client or former client who could say nice things about you? Or a vendor? Or someone you volunteer with? What about a favorite teacher or student? A pastor/priest/rabbi/imam? Anyone who works in your field who is familiar with your work? Your Career Specialist or other staff at Frederick County Workforce Services? Think big. Think about whom you know, and who knows you. Expand your network. Get in touch with old friends and acquaintances. Don’t hesitate to tell them you’re looking for work. Talk with people in the doctor’s office, in line at the post office, at the hairdresser, at Wal-Mart, wherever you can find people. If you truly don’t know anyone, one way to fix that is to get a volunteer job. You could contact Volunteer Frederick (; they will match you with a job that uses your skills, or will help you develop skills you want to have. I suspect you’ll find that you actually do know at least a few people. Be sure to ask them if they’d be willing to be references for you, and to let them know when an employer is likely to call. If you want to know more about choosing references and expanding your network, check the FCWS Seminar and Events Calendar for our Résumés and Applications class, and for Networking Works.