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I worked for a few months at a company. My boss shut down his company but we all left on friendly terms and my boss assured me I could always use him as a reference and he even reached out to me during my job search to check up on me.

Fast forward a few months and I sent him an email asking if I could extend the time I spent working for him on my resume to close my growing gap of unemployment. After over a week of no response I sent him a text asking him the same thing. He left my message as read and hasn’t responded to that after another week of waiting. I’m starting to doubt whether I can even use him as a reference at all after this behavior.

Should I continue to try to reach out to him? Can I even use my time working under him as job experience if I can’t use him as a reference?

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    We can't do anything except speculate. My guess is that your employer is a) busy and b) moved on and doesn't want to get involved with your little scheme that may have legal implications for them. Ignoring your scheme does not mean they will ignore your reference request. Also, yes, work experience is still experience without a reference. However, if you're using it for something like a visa application, you will need proof of your work experience. – Mars Mar 9 '20 at 4:52
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    "[...] asking if I could extend the time I spent working for him on my resume to close my growing gap of unemployment [...]" I don't think many people would reply to that request, either. Why? To simply not get involved into whatever (most likely illegal) you are trying to do. – Num Lock Mar 9 '20 at 16:07
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Fast forward a few months and I sent him an email asking if I could extend the time I spent working for him on my resume to close my growing gap of unemployment.

You mention that the company has shut down. What you are trying to do is to get your previous boss to agree to an unethical request(probably illegal in many jurisdictions based on what stage the shut down is in).

How do you think it is possible for someone to work at a company which isn't even operating? Imagine how it will reflect on your boss' reputation if he agreed to your request and is later found out.

Even if the company hadn't shut down, it would have still been an unethical request (even illegal) - based on what documentation the company provides to relevant government authorities.

Should I continue to try to reach out to him? Can I even use my time working under him as job experience if I can’t use him as a reference?

I would suggest to send him a message/note apologising for your previous requests, and to use him as a reference only for the period you actually worked there if he agrees.

If he still "ghosts" you, there will be no point in referencing him since you aren't sure of verification. It is a valuable lesson for you on how not to burn bridges by overextending your relationships.

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    Also, what happens if your CV is checked and it's found you were working for a company for longer than it actually existed? – Andrew Leach Mar 9 '20 at 7:14

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