Author Topic: Applying for job - question about references  (Read 2015 times)

hoodedfalcon

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Applying for job - question about references
« on: October 01, 2016, 02:40:25 PM »
Hello smart Mustachians! I recently came across a job posting that looked like it could be a dream job. Great, yes? Yes!

Backstory: I work in a small niche area in a relatively small market. I have been with my current employer for over 5 years. Boss loves me and I generally enjoy the work I do but I am ready for a change. In part because boss isn't the easiest person to work for (poor management and people skills, gossips about my co-workers in a way I find inappropriate, etc), and in part because it's just time (us lawyers don't like to get stale, you know). I have a lot of independence at work and that fact has made working there fairly bearable. But lately things have been getting under my skin so I sometimes engage in some casual job searching. Which is when I found a posting for a great job that would be a significant step up, in a related field but different enough to be different, and bonus!(?) new job is with a local university.

So here is the problem and the question. My boss knows everyone. I am afraid that simply applying for this job will get back to her. I think in the back of her mind I might take over the organization I currently work for when she retires and she is going to take this very personally. Second problem - the new job asks for references with the application. Since my current boss knows everyone and the new job is in our same general field, there is a 99% chance that she a. knows the person who is retiring thus opening up this positions, or b. knows someone who is going to be looking at my resume. It seems odd not to list my current boss as a reference, but I also don't want them to contact her unless we get to the point where the job is a real possibility. I could easily approach my second in command boss and list him as a reference instead, but I am not sure that wouldn't look weird.

TLDR: I want to apply for a new job but I am afraid of listing my current boss as a reference and I am afraid she will find out I am looking to leave before I have a back up plan.

Any wise words? I know someone here has dealt with something similar...

Choices

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Re: Applying for job - question about references
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2016, 02:50:23 PM »
This is very common in many fields. Luckily for us all, checking references is time-consuming and usually only done if you're about to be offered the job, so the new employer is unlikely to call unless you are a finalist for the position.

Is there a place to note that your current employer does not currently know you're searching and either 1) you'd be happy to provide references if you make it to that stage in the process or 2) list the references now and state that you would appreciate them not notifying your current employer unless you're a finalist? They should understand your concerns.

ender

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Re: Applying for job - question about references
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2016, 06:27:43 PM »
You don't HAVE to use your current boss as a reference.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Applying for job - question about references
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2016, 06:57:42 PM »
+1 on not using your boss as a reference.

No one will think it weird if you don't use them as a reference - it's actually weird to use them since that means they're aware of your search and brings up some interesting thought processes for the prospective employer... like "Is the current boss just saying they're great to get rid of a problem worker?" or other such musings. Or what if the current boss decided to say you have issues or were difficult to work with in a misguided attempt to torpedo you being able to leave? Just don't do it.

And NEVER use a person as a professional reference without getting their permission first. DO NOT JUST PUT THEM DOWN AND NOT ASK THEM FIRST!!! (!) Besides being common courtesy, you absolutely need to make sure that the person giving you a reference is comfortable with the idea. I've seen too many stories on places like Ask A Manager about folks being cold called for a reference and them being uncomfortable because they disliked said person - either thought they were a bad worker or just disliked them, and would never be able to give them a good reference, or they were not allowed to do so due to company policy - some companies have in place that no current boss/employee can say anything about a former worker other than "yes they worked here." Ask coworkers or former bosses and make sure they'll give you rock solid awesome references.

Using a coworker or other person(s) you've worked with in the past makes much better sense in terms of keeping your job search from your current boss.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2016, 06:59:55 PM by Frankies Girl »

hoodedfalcon

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Re: Applying for job - question about references
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2016, 07:48:21 PM »
Thank you for the feedback! I suffer from a compulsion to be overly upfront about things sometimes. Thanks for talking me off the ledge of using my boss as a reference.

And to Frankies Girl's point...Someone once used me as a reference and did not check with me first. It was an intern who worked in our office and not even directly under me. I couldn't even remember her until after I got off the phone with the employer. HA! Whoops! That's what you get for not asking someone beforehand if they would be a reference. It's definitely a pet peeve of mine. Don't worry. I will be sure to ask folks ahead of time.

As to the second point about word getting back to my boss...I guess there is just nothing I can do, other than hope that everyone is going to be a professional about it. But that is out of my control so....fingers crossed?

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Re: Applying for job - question about references
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2016, 07:54:05 PM »
In some fields it definitely looks weird if you don't list your boss as a reference, and it is even required for certain positions.

However, I second the idea of having other primary references (with whom you've spoken ahead of time) and asking that your new employer tell you if/when they plan to contact your boss so you can give him/her a heads up.

pbkmaine

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Re: Applying for job - question about references
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2016, 08:49:35 PM »
I have NEVER used my current boss as a reference.

chasesfish

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Re: Applying for job - question about references
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2016, 09:12:06 PM »
In the case you describe, I think you go to your boss and ask her for "advice", tell her there is a position open at the local university and ask her if she knows anyone over there and if she would be supportive of you looking.

You said you want the job and she'd find out if you applied, so you might as well trot the elephant in the room out and shoot it.

You'll know where you stand if you do that.