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Job application reference woe!

(39 Posts)
treaclesoda Mon 21-Jul-14 09:20:38

I'm applying for a job and they want a reference from my last two employers. My boss before my most recent one would, I'm sure, be happy to give one, but I have no way of contacting him. He no longer works for the organisation where I worked, nor for the one that he left that place to go to. I've googled, I've asked people, I've checked Linked In, no luck. I have a rough idea of what he might be doing, but its a huge public sector thing, thousands of staff, so its not as if I can track down a phone number and ring up and ask for him. And to top it all off, when I worked for him the organisation was so small that there is no one there now who would even know who I am, and there is no HR department, and even if there was they wouldn't have proper records for me anyway as I worked through an agency.

Does anyone have any ideas where I can go from here? It's very frustrating.

CoolCat2014 Mon 21-Jul-14 09:21:52

Ask if you can provide a pers

CoolCat2014 Mon 21-Jul-14 09:23:12

Provide a personal reference, where you get someone who knows you well who isn't a relative to vouch for you. Or as the company you used to work for even if your old boss has left.

MrsKoala Mon 21-Jul-14 09:24:42

If you worked there thru an agency then the agency is technically your employer and they should provide the reference.

Can the agency not provide a reference? They probably have feedback from the employer on file.

Pipsqueak11 Mon 21-Jul-14 09:25:47

Or the agency who placed you? They could at least confirm who you worked , how long, duties etc and that feedback positive?

treaclesoda Mon 21-Jul-14 09:26:19

But that's my main problem, the place I used to work for won't know who I am, no one there will.

I have to provide a personal reference as well, but the first two references need to be work ones. There is only one person in my last job who can give me a reference as I reported straight to the company director, so I can't even pick two more senior people there and ask for a reference from both of them, because there aren't any. That's why I need to go back to the job before...

treaclesoda Mon 21-Jul-14 09:27:29

Oh, would the agency do that? I'll try them then.

I thought they would just shrug their shoulders and say that they can't do it because they have no idea what my standard of work was like.

MrsKoala Mon 21-Jul-14 09:33:18

You don't usually get references like that anymore anyway. I worked in HR for numerous large companies and we only ever give references which state the start and end dates, and how many sick days someone has had over that time.

They should also have a job spec of what the role was they sent you for otherwise how did they select you to send along?

MrsKoala Mon 21-Jul-14 09:37:02

If the agency have the job spec and the dates you worked, presumably for longer than a short period of time, then the implication is your work was a good standard, as they wouldn't have kept you on if not. You can accompany this with a personal statement of your day to day activities and anything you think relevant (ie chosen to head up a special project by the manager etc). This should be sufficient. If you've got thru the interview they already want you. The references are usually just to check you aren't lying.

Unexpected Mon 21-Jul-14 09:51:41

Very few individuals will provide work references now. When we receive requests for references addressed direct to my boss, they are passed on to HR who provide a standard response, confirming only start and finish dates, job title etc. The company to which you are applying will not have any expectation of receiving anything more than that. You should be addressing your reference request to the company and not to the individual for whom you worked. if you worked through an agency, you will need to provide their details rather than the company with whom they placed you. They must have records of your time working through them.

KnackeredMuchly Mon 21-Jul-14 09:54:32

No one expects a reference saying how good you were as an employee. They want the contact details of your old work Head Office so they can write, ask for a reference and get a confirmation back that says

"Sue worked here from 14/01/2007 - 5/9/2010 as a Checkout Supervisor"

They're not expecting any more than that.

BrunoBrookesDinedAlone Mon 21-Jul-14 09:56:25

If you know the organisation that he left yours to go to, have you tried contacting them direct and asking if anyone there knows where he went next? I know you say you've askd people so sorry if you've tried this - but if you plead, perhaps their HR might send out a general shout to see if anyone working there may know or have kept in touch with him personally?

Good luck.

treaclesoda Mon 21-Jul-14 09:59:25

it's good to know that companies don't expect personal type detail any more. The company that I have most experience of, the one I worked longest for, were very strict on giving no references, yet refused to accept that if you were applying to them. I also had several colleagues who had job offers from other employers withdrawn because their current employer wouldn't provide a detailed reference, so it has always worried me.

I see your point about 'you should be naming the company, not the individual' but the application form always asks for the name of an individual?

treaclesoda Mon 21-Jul-14 10:05:23

as an aside, why do companies go through the charade of all this 'this must be someone who can comment on your day to day work' if they will actually be satisfied with a letter from HR stating the dates worked? Why not just say 'we will need confirmation from your employer that you were employed there on the dates that you say you were?'

MrsKoala Mon 21-Jul-14 10:07:51

Yes, the forms do always ask for a direct name and job title. I think this is more to see which dept you worked in and what position was your line manager (also just laziness in changing forms now the protocol is different). But it is normal for it to be passed to HR and them just issue a standard response.

treaclesoda Mon 21-Jul-14 10:12:08

Dealing with the agency I worked through will be fun. The recruitment consultant who placed me didn't know the difference between a part time job and a temporary one hmm, he thought part time was temporary. And the payroll department didn't understand that if your contract was for three days a week, Tues to Thurs, you shouldn't get a day's pay docked for not being there on Monday.

Wish me luck!

MrsKoala Mon 21-Jul-14 11:02:20

Wow - they sound, erm, professional. Good luck.

PeppermintInfusion Mon 21-Jul-14 11:21:10

I had this problem recently- needed 2 references from my last 2 employers. The previous one, I know that my manager, all related managers and the head of HR have all since moved on. I explained this to my new employer's HR and she said just to provide the details such as date of employment, address of company etc and she would just contact the HR dept. Unless it specifically states that it is a personal reference, they just confirm the dates you were employed , that you weren't subject to disciplinaries and possibly any absences.
I also told her that I knew both employers would only provide references through HR so for the manager name/title etc I just put "contact HR- <name, if known>" rather than my old manager's name.
Generally, of a personal reference is required it won't specify that it needs to be from one of your last 2 employers, as most are unwilling to provide opinions other than facts.

PeppermintInfusion Mon 21-Jul-14 11:23:44

Also Treacle, sounds like an agency I once worked through confused kept sending me for "temporary" jobs which were actually "part time" as they didn't know the difference.

treaclesoda Thu 24-Jul-14 13:00:21


What the hell do I do now?

I have contacted the agency who told me that they only have a record of me having worked through them for five weeks, when in reality it was well over a year. They also told me that I shouldn't be contacting them anyway, I should be contacting my old boss.

The job I am applying for will definitely check references, there is no question of them not following up. I will look like a liar if I give the agency, because their dates are wrong, and liar if I give the details of the organisation I used to work for, because no one there will no who I am.

I've done nothing wrong here, and yet I'm totally stuck. angry

treaclesoda Thu 24-Jul-14 13:00:57

'know who I am'

MrsKoala Thu 24-Jul-14 13:34:38

Do you have any pay records?

treaclesoda Thu 24-Jul-14 13:38:39

No, I don't. I kept them for quite a while, but it is well over five years ago now that I worked there, so I don't have them any more.

Have just rung the organisation I am applying for, and they say that they really need the reference to be from my former boss anyway, not the agency, that a 'dates you worked here' thing isn't enough. So even if the agency weren't so crap, I'm not sure it would help sad

LIZS Thu 24-Jul-14 13:40:04

p11D ? Could you contact the personnel dept at that company ? It doesn't have to be anyone who actually knew or worked with you , they will have still access to payroll records and a file.

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