What To Do If A Job Reference No Longer Works At the Company
In this era of market volatility, people up and down the corporate ladder are being laid off. It is not uncommon to reach out to a former supervisor for a reference, only to find they are no longer there. Now what?
Your references don’t still need to be at the company to provide a reference for your work there. Use LinkedIn, Facebook, an overall Google search, or offline networking through mutual former colleagues to find a lost reference. If you do find him or her and s/he agrees to speak about your work at the former company, give your prospective employer his/ her new information but also his/ her past title and your exact relationship at the company where you both worked.
Use someone else at that company. If you can’t find your past boss and the prospective employer really wants to hear about your work at this company, find someone else who knew your work. This can be a colleague who worked on a project with you. This might be your boss’ boss, who can at least verify what type of work you did. This also might be clients or vendors for this past company. For example, if you were an asset manager, find an institutional investor who might have interacted with you. If you were an IT specialist, find someone at a software vendor that you worked with closely. LinkedIn is great for collecting these types of testimonials.
Use another supervisor. People falling off your radar is why you always want to have at least three supervisors for your reference list. Collect and confirm your references now, not just when you get an offer and need to scramble for names, titles and current contact info the same day.
Remember, too, that you need other types of references in addition to supervisors. Recruiters may ask for colleagues and for people that you managed. References at different levels provide different vantage points, and the most thorough reference checks will encompass all of these.