I received an offer letter from a startup company contingent of passing a reference check. The company's HR requests 3 references, each being from a different company. 2 of those references need to be direct managers. I am only able to list 1 manager as a reference along with 3 coworkers from 3 different companies. I'm missing 1 more manager from a different company to list as a reference.

My job experience:

  • 3 month internship 3 years ago in college. I have 1 co-worker reference here but no manager reference. The manager left the company since then. Our work relationship was neutral.
  • 5 month full time where my manager and I did not get along. I did not keep in touch after leaving. I have 1 co-worker reference from here, but no supervisor reference.
  • a 26 month long full time where I have 2 positive managers references and 4 coworker references.

I am having trouble contacting my internship manager. I don't have any of his updated contact info except on LinkedIn. I've tried following up with him 2x on LinkedIn this week with no success. I plan on contacting the internship HR if they potentially have my old manager's contact info.

Today I spoke on the phone with HR of the future employer in hopes of compromise. They were in a hurry so I was unable to negotiate. They were firm to list 2 supervisors, but would give me more time.

At this point I'm nervous of losing this offer. What else can I do at this point to improve this situation? If I am unable to get in contact with my internship manager and the job offer falls through, I might face this problem again with another potential employer. What would be a long term solution?


2 Answers 2


Do you have any professors you worked with in college that would provide a recommendation? From my experience I've listed both managers I've worked with as well as academics who I've published papers with. Explaining to the startup that you don't have the ability to provide 3 managers but can substitute a professor who you worked with could provide a solution.


What else can I do at this point to improve this situation?

If they are not willing to change this requirement, you either provide the references they ask for or don't apply with them.

Seems that your priority now is to contact this reference by any means. If you have other references that apply, consider asking them also with the hopes that one of them will reply back.

Do contact your internship HR dept. or former colleagues to see if they can provide you with an updated contact to reach your former manager; calling them may be faster. See if you have your former manager's email, or phone number. Going to their offices and asking in person is another option.

Just, don't rely on simple emails and IM to get a response, as those means are slower. If you see no response, try a more effective mean, etc., being careful not to Spam them all over (that is why a call could be better).

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