I previously worked for two employers that no longer exist for different reasons, and I don't know how to refer them in my resume.

  1. Company A was running successfully and my ex-boss sold it. While the brand of company A still exists, none of my records exist.
  2. Company B was running poorly and no longer exists.

Right now I have quoted them in my resume. For contact details I listed my ex-boss (who no longer has a relation with A) for company A and an official phone number of company B (which is now a dead phone line).

Is there any better way to list employers in a resume, when they no longer exist?

  • 6
    Is putting contact details normal in your locale? I'd never put names or phone numbers of people on my resume.
    – Dan
    Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 8:02
  • Yes. I live in Hong Kong. If I don't provide the HR will just ask for it.
    – Mark
    Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 8:30
  • 1
    Wouldn't they normally ask at the offer stage? In most countries references are a formality.
    – Dan
    Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 8:35
  • 2
    @Mark - Let them ask. Gives you a chance to explain the both companies no longer exist. They can verify they did exist.
    – Donald
    Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 10:53

6 Answers 6


I have both types of companies in my history and just had to deal with a problem caused by a defunct company.

Where I live it is not normal to list contact information for companies on the resume, so I just list the company names. (For the ones that were acquired, I add a parenthetical note about that -- "Foo Inc was acquired by Big Co in $year".) Separate from the resume is the employer-specific application, which asks for contact info. For acquired, still-existing companies I supply current contact info; for the defunct company I say "N/A" and find some place to note that it no longer exists.

I just accepted a new position and, as is normal in my location and field, the hiring company had a third-party company do a background check on me. That background check turned up a red flag because of the defunct company; they had no way to verify my employment because there was no office they could call. I sent them copies of my offer letter and "you're all laid off" letter (both dated) and that satisfied them. What I learned from this is: (a) it's important to keep stuff like that forever, and (b) next time I'll anticipate the issue and ask the hiring company what I should give them before they hand the job over to their background-check people.


You should list the last contact information for the company that went out of business. After that, a brief description that the company is no longer available to be contacted due to certain circumstances, and then a list of people that can be contacted to supply information that may be required. When it comes to references, even those from a co-worker or someone that you dealt with regularly in a supervisor position at your previous companies are better than nothing.

Depending on your job type and how often you dealt with co-workers, supervisors from other parts of the business or clients and customers, there are other resources to get your reference from. If for example you were in sales or had a lot of contact with clients outside the company, these people may be able to assist you given that this company you're applying for will accept references that are not from direct supervisors.


In the first case, I think it is quite common, as people come and go. I don't think any of my previous managers still work at the same post. In this case you should describe your position in the company, and below add your former manager's contact details.

For the second company, again thoses cases exist, but if you know the phone number is obsolete you shouldn't put it. Instead, you could add the personal contact for your former manager at this position too.

  • hmm.. I think Comapny B's manager will not happy someone asking for it?
    – Mark
    Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 7:56
  • You can first contact him yourself to see if he would agree to being called. Else instead of the contact, just add a small line saying that the company doesn't exist anymore
    – XGouchet
    Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 8:02

If at all possible, name the companies, and list contact information for people you know that you used to work with at those companies. This would include your ex-manager if possible. While companies may not be around, the people are most likely reachable - if so ask them if you can use them as a reference.


This happened to me when I was doing contract work while in school. The company was run by 2 guys who, come to find out, hadn't filed anything with the IRS. The company went bust, and I decided I didn't want future employers contacting the guys, but needed to be able to talk about my new found PHP skills.

Here is what I did - I added it on my resume just like any other job. I also put "References available upon request" at the bottom. During subsequent interviews, I would talk about the experience. None of the hiring managers asked about the status of the company, but when they'd turn it over to HR, I got a phone call about it.

The phone call went something like - "We can't verify employment or tax records from company X - do you have any contact info." I explained the situation, and that contacting them would be futile, as they owed me about $1500 at the time. They verified my other jobs, and I got internship I interviewed for.

The take-away: Any future company can verify basic dates from tax records, just be sure to have a few references handy.


Absolutely list both companies.

It's exponentially easier to explain your situation than to later be asked about a break in your job history and then have to explain that you didn't list the company because it no longer exists.

Part of the interview process is to be as transparent and truthful as possible, otherwise both you and your prospective employer aren't getting the information needed to make a good, educated decision.

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