I'm helping my wife write a resume for her job application, and a rather unfortunate thing has been brought up - her most recent employer is actually dead. That is to say, the only person who had any record of her working at her previous position passed away after she left, and it's unlikely that anyone else has any record of her working there (It's a volunteer position, but she was in a paid position).

Similarly, her position directly before that she did not have any favorable supervisors, and recently fell out of contact (and favor) with the one co-worker she had at that location.

This leaves a rather unfortunate hole in her resume - despite the fact that she did in fact work very hard at both of these locations. We would like to include these previous positions, but are worried that, when looking for references, her prospective employer will be concerned that we cannot offer any from her previous working positions.

How can we reflect on her resume that she did work for this period of time, but that we sadly cannot count on anyone from those locations as work references?

  • @JoeStrazzere Bad choice of phrasing on my part - what I mean is 'previous employers'. I'll edit.
    – Zibbobz
    Mar 7, 2017 at 17:45
  • 4
    If she got paid, she should have payslips, which can use to prove she worked there. Mar 7, 2017 at 18:30

1 Answer 1


There is no hole in her resume - she worked at those places.

Many companies these days do not give references for legal reasons (certainly in the US); all they will do is confirm the job title and dates worked.

If a company asks for work references, you tell them that the most recent manager "is no more", "has ceased to be", "bereft of life, s/he rests in peace", and "this is an ex-manager". They can still contact the HR department or representative of those companies for confirmation of employment.

  • 6
    All of those phrases sound very strange to me. I would personally use "has unfortunately passed away."
    – David K
    Mar 7, 2017 at 17:06
  • I'm not sure if that organization has any HR department. To avoid beating around the bush - both organizations were technically 'charity' organizations. One was a local Habitat for Humanity, and the other was a local thrift shop.
    – Zibbobz
    Mar 7, 2017 at 17:07
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    @DavidK those phrases are quotes from a Monty Python skit about a dead parrot (quite a famous one) and are therefore intended humourously. I don't think PeteCon is suggesting using them, rather using some euphemism with which your wife is comfortable. Mar 7, 2017 at 17:23
  • @KateGregory Ah, thanks. I am (clearly) not familiar with that sketch.
    – David K
    Mar 7, 2017 at 17:24
  • 1
    @JoeStrazzere Not a bad suggestion! It was quite awhile ago though, so hopefully we still have them on record. Still, I would upvote an answer to that effect.
    – Zibbobz
    Mar 7, 2017 at 17:47

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