Finding a Job Without Recent Work References

A reader writes….

I have been on disability for the last 6 years and have not had a job since. I am going to school for motorcycle mechanics, but I need to start working in order to make ends meet since I don’t make enough anymore to pay all my bills. It seems no one wants to hire me based on the fact I have no real work history that is more recent. So what do I do?


Dear “Gary Gap,”

There are a lot of businesses out there, particularly restaurants or retailers that do not necessarily require professional references.  You figure, everybody has to start somewhere, Consider the kids fresh out of high school – they’re finding jobs without any work experience.

You not only HAVE work experience (just not recent), but you’re going to school to boot!  This says a lot about you and explains the gap in employment, which is something most employers are interested in learning about.

Businesses ask for references so they can get a feel for your work ethic, reliability, experience, attendance, etc.  Oftentimes, a professor or instructor from your school can serve as a reliable reference.  In fact, if you network with them enough, they may be able to offer some possible leads.  I see that you’re going to school for motorcycle mechanics.  An entry-level position in this trade may accept a school referral in place of a professional reference. 

Have you done any internships or volunteer work while attending school?  Even if they were unpaid, they are still a good resource of information for a potential hiring manager.

Remember, at this stage, you’re just trying to make ends meet and you may not find your ideal role just yet.  For now, go for something basic and give it your all.  If anything, it will serve as the professional reference you’ll need when the time comes to go after your real career in the field you’re interested in.

Anyone else in this predicament? 
If so, what have YOU done?  Please share… we’d love to hear your experiences (and expertise!)

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Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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