Can I Get Hired Without a Job Reference?

Dear J.T. & Dale: Due to renal failure and then dialysis, I have not worked in almost nine years. I got a transplant in 2010 and am doing great, and I am able to go back to work. I have only one problem: no job references. I retired in 2004 after 30 years, and everyone I know has either left the state or retired. At this point I would like to work 10 to 15 more years and then retire. Unfortunately, I am now afraid to apply for a job. Is there anything I can do to get a job without a reference? I also am a graduate student with five months of school left. - Phyllis DALE: First, I need to challenge your premise that you have no job references. I understand that you left the work force years ago, but after 30 years on the job, you have some people who remember you and your work. If they've moved or retired, that's fine; you just need to find them. This is where social media are so useful. You locate a former manager or colleague and reconnect, whereupon she tells you about some other former co-worker, and so on. Plus, you also are creating a network for learning about job openings. Some retired people stay in touch with working colleagues and often have grown children who are in the field they retired from, offering new generations of connections. J.T.: Given that you are graduating with an advanced degree soon, I'd also use every available resource provided by your school for career assistance - and even resources they don't provide, like going to alumni for insights and for introductions. You canbe afraid to try. You survived a life-threatening situation, so this should be a piece of cake in comparison, right? People need to see your desire to work and gain an appreciation for your ability to do so. Couple that with your new knowledge and some persistence, and you can find what you are looking for. Feel free to send questions to J.T. and Dale via e-mail at or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019. © 2012 by King Features Syndicate, Inc. Image Credit: Shutterstock

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