What if I say no, don't contact my supervisor?
April 14, 2011 11:31 AM Subscribe
When applying for federal jobs, how problematic is it not to allow a potential employer to contact a previous supervisor?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
So, up until last January I was in ministry, and I've been a stay-at-home Dad/adjunct college instructor since then. I'm now starting the process of applying for jobs at the USAjobs.gov website, and there are some that I think would fit my skills very well. However: my last ministry posting ended very messily. There was ongoing conflict between me and the lay leadership regarding the scope and parameters of my responsibilities, and--I found out afterward--some false and damaging accusations had been leveled against me by a mentally ill church member. I'm not sure that those accusations were completely believed (no action was taken by any party) but I have no doubt that they still colored the way I was perceived. I really don't have the faintest idea what my supervisor would say about me if contacted, but the options basically range from neutral to devastating. I have excellent references from previous positions, yet I'm concerned that this one bad experience will derail my job prospects.
When filling out information on the website, for each previous job they ask "May we contact your supervisor?" The options are "Yes," "No," and "Contact me first."
I'm tempted to say "No," on this one, but I'm concerned about how that would look. "Yes" is risky. It could be okay, and it could awful. It won't be great. I guess "contact me first," makes the most sense, and then I can put whatever response they will get in context, and mention that previous experiences were much more positive. But I'm really only familiar with the ins and outs of ministry jobs, and I don't know how a potential federal employer would view a "no" or "contact me first" response. Any insights to help me figure out the best choice?