Need help - career hunting/resume building

I don't really need help so much on the resume itself; I've been looking up every resource I can find online (which is common sense and why I wouldn't instantly ask a forum for help on the resume itself) but there is one part that I'm having trouble on - the professional references.

The problem is...I don't really have any references. Sure, I've had a few shitty part time jobs through the years but nothing that I could even consider remotely professional since it's just the usual stuff like crappy retail jobs where the manager I worked under is already long gone and has surely already forgotten my name by now.

So who should I list as references in situations like this? I was thinking a few of my old professors perhaps. I only ever spoke to a few of them but I think they know me fairly well and could at least be good judges of my ability to communicate and my work ethic, that sort of thing. is it appropriate to list a professor or a teacher as a reference on a professional resume?

Oh how I wish I had networked... Nah, not really. But it is making this whole find-a-job thing difficult since I haven't really worked, I didn't do an internship, and I communicated with VERY few of my professors at length. I'd wager that only perhaps 1 or 2 out of my entire school career would have even the faintest idea who I am.

Any advice you have is really appreciated. I'm tired of this stupid part time job crap, I want to find something that will actually pay me enough to have a place of my own and some small degree of security and regular hours.

nyankaty:
So who should I list as references in situations like this? I was thinking a few of my old professors perhaps. I only ever spoke to a few of them but I think they know me fairly well and could at least be good judges of my ability to communicate and my work ethic, that sort of thing. is it appropriate to list a professor or a teacher as a reference on a professional resume?

Well, I'm not sure about the USA (that's what your profile says you're from) but in the UK it is appropriate to have academic references on your CV when you are looking for a job after graduation. Chances are, you won't really have any relevant references at that point anyway, so you should have somewhere to start. So I'd say do it.

Also, another thing I have done in the UK is to list references as "provided on demand" or something along those lines - if somebody is interested in hiring you, they can contact you for references, at which point it will be easier to say "Look, I have university professors here" (or maybe a manager from a part-time job if you think it's relevant but don't want to put that in a CV, or other situations) and it's usually OK to do so.

I hope that helps.

At least where I'm from (which is NJ), it's okay to put teacher references on your reference list, but you definitely want professional references if possible. I started sophomore year with only professors on my reference list but cycled them all out with professional references by the end of my junior year. Make sure you get in touch with those professors first; hopefully they actually like you, but at the very least get them to remember you. It's probably bad when a reference says something like "oh, yeah, Bob? He...uh...got an A in my class, I think? Seemed like a nice enough guy, I guess." I honestly don't trust any professor to remember me for more than two years, given the number of other students they come into contact with each semester.

What year are you, anyway? If you're anything besides a senior, teacher references are probably fine for getting internships, and once you get one you can make sure you impress your manager + your manager's boss and voila, your reference list is looking pretty decent.

Over this side of the pond it's standard to use your most recent employer as your first reference, with the second reference coming from another employer, an academic contact, or sometimes a community figure who's considered a good judge of character.

In the past I've used "expired" references with no qualms. Even if all the staff who knew you at a previous job have moved on (that's not your fault, is it) you should still exist in the personnel and payroll files, so they'll be able to say "Yes, Dave Davison worked here from 2008-2011, he received one pay rise, and we have no records of any reprimands or disciplinary action" which is really all a prospective employer needs to know: will you turn up for work, and can you be trusted not to steal the stationery/punch the receptionist/seduce the boss's pet cat. Academic-wise, my old personal tutor at university told me it was completely standard for him, on any given day, to be asked to supply a reference for a past student who he had taught 5, 10, 15 or more years ago. Again, it doesn't matter if they don't remember your face or what your handwriting and timekeeping was like, as long as they have you on file they'll be able to write back to your prospective employer and say "Yes, Dave was enrolled here from 2011 to 2013, we can confirm the grades he told you are correct" or whatever. All the stuff about whether you have good people skills or are smartly-presented or whatever, they'll decide for themselves at the interview.

tl;dr: references are a formality, treat them as such. Former employers should be fairly expected to provide references as standard, and personal tutors, heads of department etc will usually be happy to do so, but ask first.

 

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