Job references are an essential part of any resume or curriculum, second to your academic qualifications. However, if you are a first time job seeker, the lack of previous work experience can play against you as you prospective employer is unable to verify your reliability and standard of work from a previous place of employment. This does not mean that first time job seekers will never find employment and a little initiative and ingenuity will assist with suitable references without any previous work history.
If you have never worked before, there is no point in creating imaginary employers and fake job references. Your prospective employer may decide to verify your references and find out that you lied. This plays against you in any job application and it is not worth taking the risk. Using excuses like your previous employer has gone bankrupt and closed shop or you worked for a small business, with few employees, and the owner passed on, are excuses that employers are familiar with. Don’t bother trying your chances using these flimsy excuses.
Rather opt for a character reference, be it from your school teacher, university professor, pastor or priest or even a respected member of the community. Think carefully and find somebody who knows you and your family well and can vouch for your credibility. This may not hold the same weight as a character reference from a university professor but it is the step in the right direction. Open minded employers will give you points for trying and may accept the references sincerely.
Volunteer Work & Charities
A reference from a charity where you volunteered holds weight to some extent so if you do not have previous work history, approach the charitable organization and ask for a reference. Your employer will see that you are a since and hard working person who is prepared to go out of the way to help others without expecting any pay. This will definitely play in your favor.
References from Part Time Jobs
Working at the local burger joint may not be any person’s idea of the perfect job but it may be a good place to start your working life. If you have been unsuccessful in previous job applications due to a lack of references, it is time to step back and rethink your approach. Working, even for a short stint, in a low paying, part time job will allow you to get some work experience and allow you a reference from your employer. It shows your prospective employer that you made an initiative to do what you have to do to make a living, and this will be useful than not having a reference at all.
Times are tough and especially so for first time job seekers. Don’t forget that the person interviewing you is only human and will appreciate honesty, sincerity and initiative on your part.