I have been out of the workplace for over a decade caring for my partner and have no current referees. How do I cover that part of the application process and how important is that?
It’s interesting how much job hunters worry about applying for a job with no references and – in complete contrast – how little confidence employers have in their value.
The most useful referees can say something about your experience, skills and working style. You haven’t been in work for 10 years, for very good reasons, so an employer won’t expect anything from a recent employer. You don’t need to apologise for this – be upfront about it and ask what the employer would like you to do. An employer interested in hiring you may choose to manage without references.
If they are required, think creatively. You might be able to re-connect with people who can write about your previous jobs – or people who can say something about more recent voluntary commitments or learning experiences. Sometimes a personal reference is useful to confirm you’re a person who shows commitment and stability.
Don’t list referees on a CV. Ask referees for their support in advance and name them as required. When you do so, go back to each referee and tell them about the role and why you’re interested in it, which will help them provide a tailored response.
*John Lees is one of the UK’s best-known career strategists and author of 15 books on work and careers. How to Get a Job You Love (now in its eleventh edition) regularly tops the list of best-selling careers books by a British author and was twice selected as the WH Smith Business Book of the Month. More information: www.johnleescareers.com