The company you keep
Hopefully, since you first started in the workforce, you have been building a referral base. If you haven’t, you need to. While you may not have referrals within your target company, external referrals go a long way in helping to validate your fit within a role. Depending on the position you are seeking, the types of referrals may vary – and they do not need to be from a previous manager. They can be focused on your management style (from someone who has supported you); client relations skills (from a former client) or general character/team player attributes (someone who has worked with you).