Help! I have outdated employment references


Dear Evil HR Lady,

How do I deal with have outdated references and having been unemployed for two years?

Will anyone hire someone that has been at home just to find peace of mind and a life direction, that has old dated references?

Don't tell me to volunteer, I have done that and failed, as I am shy and don't know how to respond to rude people. I freeze.

Should I just cut off a leg and go for a disability pension?

I know you're joking about leg amputation,  but I can see why you might start to lean that way. After you've been unemployed for 6 months, your chances of finding a new job are pretty abysmal. However, probabilities don't dictate individual experiences, and plenty of people have done it before and plenty will do it in the future.

Let's talk references. Your only problem is if your boss from your last job won't give you a reference (or would give you a lousy reference). Generally, when employed people hunt for a new job, their references are just as stale as yours. That is, they don't want their current boss, co-workers or clients to know  that they are job hunting. If that's the case, what names to provide for references? People from their previous jobs--usually people they haven't worked with for years.

So, that isn't an issue.

But, you have other issues. Being paid doesn't take away shyness and rude people exist in every industry and in almost every office. It has nothing to do with volunteering. So while volunteering can help you network, you're saying you can't because you don't like rude people. But the same things that keep you from volunteering are going to keep you from putting your best foot forward in a job interview.

Shyness isn't a bad thing. Neither is being an introvert. But it does take a certain amount of guts to find a new job. You have to speak to people. You have to be willing to put yourself out on a limb. You have to be willing to accept the possibility of rejection. It's painful. It's unpleasant. It can be, in a word, awful. But you have to do it.

This means you have to do what it takes to overcome your shyness and talk to people. Tell people you're looking for a job. Tell your neighbor, your cousin, your ex-husband, your brother-in-law and your plumber. (Unless, of course, your ex-husband will undermine you. Then skip him.) When someone says, "Hi, Jane! How are you?"  you say, "I'm doing great. I'm in the midst of a job hunt. Do you know anybody that is hiring people to do X?" 

If you're shy, you're probably cringing, but you need to start doing it. Once you get to the interviewing and reference checking phase, your old references won't be a problem.

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