I worked in a web development company for 6/7 years reporting directly to the boss, it was a small company (10ish employees). I left a year and a half ago to go travelling and recently came back.

I would like to start working again, but I am unsure how to proceed with adding my old company as a reference. I am unable to add my boss as a reference because they passed away after car crash 5 months ago, the other people in the company either reported to me or don't know what my role entailed. I started in that company straight out of college so I do not have any other references in that line to fall back on (I do have one or two from the volunteering side).

I am really unsure how to proceed while staying respective to everyone involved.

  • Why not use those who reported to you as references?
    – Erik
    Sep 12, 2017 at 10:02

2 Answers 2


Did the company have any major clients that you could use as a referee?

I think you are worrying unnecessarily here. It's not that uncommon a situation really. Just add the company and your experience as per your role to your CV, and if anyone asks for a reference, tell them that the previous employer passed away but your work can be validated by a major client or a subordinate coworker. I know as an prospective employer I would be satisfied with that as a reference of your work and capability in that role.


Reference check if for 2 purpose First is to ensure that you have as much experience as you claim. That part can be handled by anyone in the company. Since yours was a small company, the founder/CEO may be able to provide a reference for your employment history.

If that is not possible due to any reason, and you feel comfortable, you could also share your tax returns and salary slips (if you have them) from those years. It will show a salary being credited and hence show a employment history.

Next thing to be covered is a skill set and conduct. Then as mentioned in the other answer, clients may be a good option in case no one is left in your last organization who could vouch for you. You can also add links to the works you have done ( being in web development, I guess some of your work will be on internet ). Lastly, most organizations will have an interview process where they will assess your skill set. Experience is hard to fake, if some technical expert will take your evaluation, they will figure out that you have really worked.

Also, feel free to share if you have stack exchange profile or any other blog/ site where you are active. I have found its good to maintain an account and participate in the community.

As long as you don't lie, most companies will accept the explanation and the one of the alternatives you offer. I think you should be good.

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