How to get a job (ASAP) with a resume gap, no network, and no references?
September 15, 2008 5:56 AM Subscribe
I was recently passed over for an interview for a great job because of (I strongly believe) my lack of references (which the ad requested, but I submitted without anyway because my other qualifications were strong). I don’t have any references. Not professional. Not personal. I’m dependable (to a fault!), hardworking, and stable (years-long resume gap notwithstanding), but I have no way of proving this. I suffered from crippling depression and anxiety for years...
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (25 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
as well as spent several years in an abusive relationship. I haven’t worked since college (aside from a tiny bit of freelancing/odd jobs at home). I’ve been trying to get my life back ever since I left the bastard and after much struggle, recovered last year.
Unfortunately, all those years left me a virtual shut-in, breaking most of my relationships. I’m also somewhat estranged from much of my family. Almost nobody in my family is aware of what I was going through and they all simply think I’m a lazy fuckup who doesn't care. Of course, they won’t say it to my face, but it’s gotten back to me.
I contacted my supervisor from my only job (at college) and he refused to give me a reference. His explanation was along the lines of “we were really impressed with your skill and abilities, but there were personality conflicts”. Because of my illnesses, I admit being a bit shy and distant, but I was a damn good employee, so I was shocked. When others would go off and take 45 minute “breaks”, I didn’t sit around and wait for work to come to me. They even entrusted me with sensitive data, and other higher-level tasks that they didn’t give other students.
Since I don’t really know anyone (not even online friends I'm close to), I don’t have a network. At all. Networking just seems so vital that it’s a frustratingly tough, steep climb. It gets overwhelming, and I've yet to break out of all my 'depressive' habits (I'm doing well, but some things linger).
I realized recently that I keep most people at arm’s length because I’m so ashamed of my life and what it’s become. I’m ashamed of myself and my wasted potential, but that’s something I’m trying to work through.
I don’t even know how to network. I’m not actually socially awkward though. I’m talkative and sociable. But I do have trouble maintaining relationships.
I've attended networking events, but didn't actually get anywhere. I don’t want to come off too desperate, like I want something, but I want to be able to make contacts, so I do go there with a goal in mind. I need contacts now (!), so it always feels urgent.
Is there a better way to interact at these events? I generally go alone, so breaking the ice is difficult, especially because the ‘networking’ events in the field I’m trying to crack tend to be attended by packs of people who already know each other.
I will try temp agencies again. But I’d call them religiously for weeks and never get sent on any assignments. This happened with more than one agency. I figured they would be more likely to take applicants like me without references, and I could earn some through them, but I’ve been basically told I’m “not ready” by one agency, and just kind of given the brush off by the others. One took all my info, told me they’d call, and when I called back, through a secretary's slip, found out that my assigned counselor hadn’t even invited me to come in and interview or test (in other words, she didn’t take me seriously at all and had absolutely no plans to send me on anything. This was one of the largest agencies around. Couldn’t they just be honest?)
Please give me advice on how I can improve my position. I'm pretty sure my stumbling blocks are my giant resume gap and my lack of references. Though when I actually do manage to get an interview, I generally feel like it goes well and then I hear crickets.
If someone does ask for references, what sort of explanation should I give? What options do I have?
I realize that this is a tough market right now for anyone. I am close to NYC and applying there (with plans to move in). I’m quite desperate because I am going to need to rent an apartment of my own very soon (a few months' time), but I obviously need an income first.