I worked from November 2011 as a free lancer with a friend but he recently passed away in December 2012. Now when I interview for a job I have a gap in my resume that I have no proof for as my friend cannot vouch for me.

There is no invoice trail as my friend was paying me by cash. Interviewers don't believe I had a job at that time as I have no proof of working there.

How do I bridge this in an interview?

  • 1
    Hi nishant, i edited your question to remove the fluff and really focus it on the issue at hand, i hope the question is still acceptable to you
    – user5305
    Mar 26, 2013 at 10:25
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    Can't you show the work you did while you were working for your friend? :) Sry for your friend.
    – Kevindish
    Mar 26, 2013 at 13:24
  • When you say "no paper trail": are there emails? Phone messages?
    – teambob
    Mar 27, 2013 at 5:25
  • @teambob paper trail was brought in by my initial edit, perhaps that was inccorect phrasing, revised the wording to be closer to the original question
    – user5305
    Mar 27, 2013 at 11:43
  • What kind of work are we talking about here?
    – DA.
    Mar 31, 2013 at 20:25

6 Answers 6


I would list the position on my resume as free lance work. I would not mention anything about your friend passing away. When interviewers ask about the position if you can talk confidently about the work your did then they will be less likely to question the experience. I have worked primarily on Intranet applications that are not available for the public to see. But I can explain the projects at a high level and talk about the work I did on the projects as well as answering questions that interviewers ask. This has always been enough for me to convince the interviewers that my experience is real.

If you have some code samples that you can provide to back up the experience that is even better.

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    I like this because they don't really care if you did the work previously, they care if you have the experience and knowledge to put to use and talking about the projects you did is a good way to highlight your knowledge and experience
    – user5305
    Mar 27, 2013 at 11:44

With the truth: You can mention that your co-worker passed away (supposing that there is a way to prove it) and you should also be able to produce evidence of the freelancing work you did together (invoices, reference letters, if not code samples?)

I would suggest that you maybe contact your previous customers and ask for a reference letter that would describe the nature of your work, if possible.

For such cases, I scan the letters or print emails as PDFs and have them available in a way that I can retrieve them from a browser (dropbox links, personal site etc) so that proof can be produced easily and I don't have to carry tons of paper for every interview.

  • 13
    Don't mention about your friend who passed away. The last thing you want is to bring up sad topics that will associate with you. Mar 26, 2013 at 17:41
  • My intention was to advice on how to handle the situation when it comes up, not bring it up in advance. Mar 26, 2013 at 18:07
  • I disagree with your first point but the last two are golden pieces of advice. Online archives of experience is always a great idea. +1
    – Marion
    Jun 9, 2016 at 4:32

Really, no paper trail?

So if you get paid cash in the country where you live, it is not taxable income?

If you remitted tax, then you have a paper trail from that.

If you were required to pay tax on this, but didn't, then maybe don't mention it in interviews.

The tax-free income you enjoyed can be regarded as an offset against the interview woes you're having.

  • 1
    Seriously, downvote? So you think it's a good idea to go to interviews, in say, Canada or the US, and say about how you got paid in cash on your last job and there is no paper trail whatsoever?
    – Kaz
    Mar 26, 2013 at 20:29
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    People get paid under the table all the time. There are times where this is even legal. For example I've done manual labor and was paid out of the discretionary funds of the company. They don't report it as payroll, I don't report it as income. No remittance papers, no taxes, no paper trail, but the work was legitimate and while it's a loop hole the payment method was legal.
    – Frank B
    Mar 26, 2013 at 20:35
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    There are no times that failing to report and pay taxes on income is legal. It is okay for the company to skip putting it on payroll, but you are still liable for the tax bill.
    – Nat
    Mar 26, 2013 at 21:30
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    Yeah, Frank, I'm not a lawyer, but I'm pretty sure that if you got paid cash-in-hand and never declared the income, that wasn't actually legal. Mar 26, 2013 at 22:21
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    Essentially, if this is in the US, OP was paid by cash, and no taxes were reported/paid on said cash...then OP did not actually have a job during that period of "freelance" work.
    – acolyte
    Apr 3, 2013 at 15:57

In my experience no prospective employer ever asked for proof of anything, not diplomas, neither work experience. And only once the most anal of all my employers asked for copies of diplomas a few months after being hired.

They do however tend to ask for references, a name, a phone number or email address, which is normal I would say. As long as you can talk about what you did in such a way it gives them confidence you know what you're talking about, it should be fine.

Disclaimer, this is all IT related work.


The source of the problems are that many people are hiding the fact that they were doing no work in some time (looking for job or simply taking very long vacations) by putting "freelance" position in their CV.

In fact, if you were really freelancer, this means that either you were hired on the basis of civil contract or own company. In first case you should have payroll in some kind (it is required to pay taxes), in second case you are paying taxes yourself and you can prove it also. Of course, you can prove you have paid taxes (so prove your income) but not that all was from working as freelance, but if you had earned that f.g. selling carpets, why would you not continue that?

In worst case you are if you were working black. But in that case it is better to hide that fact than to say you were doing something illegal. Most companies would not like to hire someone with criminal past, even if you are ashamed of it and you were forced to accept such deal because of your economic situation.


I would remove all dates from your resume. This is an acceptable practice. By doing so you remove any problems with so-called gaps, and the focus is on your skills. If the interviewer wants to know about how recent the experience is, then answer the question honestly and truthfully, but there is no need to volunteer the dates, especially when doing so might create awkward looking gaps in your resume.

P.S. When reading your question it sounds like there's no gap in work. Do you not put your freelance work on your resume, giving the appearance of a gap, or does this potential employer want to call every single previous employer to check on you? If the latter is the case then I'd be concerned with that work environment.

EDIT: To be clear I'm not saying you should always remove dates from your resume. However if the dates are not conducive to the story you're telling and would paint an inaccurate picture of your skills and experience it is ok to leave them out. Each resume is different, some call for dates some don't. Some list full job histories, some don't. Some focus on education, while others focus on volunteer work. The point is that each resume is about telling a story, and to make sure that it tells an accurate story. Don't lie, but that doesn't mean you have to include all information about everything you've done on your resume. Nobody does. We all leave things out because they would hurt us when we know they shouldn't but also know the employer won't know that. So just be selective and include what helps you get the job and what helps the employer get the most accurate picture of you.

  • 5
    Remove dates? Seriously? Yes, you remove gaps, by replacing them with one gaping hole: lack of dates.
    – Kaz
    Mar 26, 2013 at 20:28
  • Yes seriously. The dates are secondary to what you actually did in the job. Most interviewers won't even notice. My most recent job called for work experience that was over 4 years old (I'm in college and have shifted through a couple different industries). I left off the dates, and no one even batted an eye. I got the job and am performing well in it. Do you think I would have even gotten the interview if I had said my last time to code was 4-5 years ago? Source: Personal experience and working in a college lab where we helped people put together resumes
    – Frank B
    Mar 26, 2013 at 20:31
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    @FrankB, you lucked out. I woudl immediately trash your resume and not bother to call you and so would most experienced hiring managers.
    – HLGEM
    Mar 26, 2013 at 22:15
  • Bad idea, granted you may still get calls, but these will be people who are inexperienced with resumes while you want to go into a good team/company. Mar 26, 2013 at 23:33
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    You're telling people how to write resumes -- have you talked to hiring managers to see what they think? You say it works, but I'd like to hear your numbers about how it works compared to using dates. As for hiring managers, go to AskAManager.org and see what she says about this advice. Mar 27, 2013 at 20:20

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