How to use references from a current job?
April 29, 2010 5:46 AM   Subscribe

How to use coworkers/supervisors as references in your current job without causing controversy?

My girlfriend has worked at a state government position for several years. She found a job listed in another state that has the same exact responsibilities that she does, except with a title and more money. She pointed this out to her supervisors and they agreed but told her there was nothing they could do to provide her with those things.

She is basically an executive assistant that does everything around the office for the inept supervisors/managers who giver her responsibilities outside of her own (what they are paying her for). This along with several other valid factors has led her to search for a new job.

She has some interviews coming up and has many of her supervisors listed as references because they like her and know she's a great worker. She know she must tell them that she used them as references (didn't ask initially) before they are called but is afraid to cause controversy in the office of her possible departure to a new job. Has anyone dealt with this in the past and can provide some advice? I've read up on a few old metafilter questions but didn't see anything specific to this.
posted by modoriculous to Work & Money (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Has anyone dealt with this in the past and can provide some advice?

First off, never EVER put a reference on a resume that you haven't okayed.

I know of a couple of local businesses who call references before the interview to gauge the candidate's availability and abilities before they get there and they strike candidates off their list if the reference seems unaware they are a reference. It's a basic courtesy, not to mention a very good way to shoot yourself in the foot with current/prospective employers.
posted by Hiker at 5:50 AM on April 29, 2010

I guess the continuation is to talk to the current employer about why you're looking and to ask for their help as a reference. Any employer who has been provided with good evidence that their employee is underpaid for the work they do will understand this type of behavior, as it is normal.
posted by Hiker at 5:51 AM on April 29, 2010

Since she already pointed out the other position and they said they cannot match that, it seems okay to proceed with the formal application. When working in gov't, don't applicants have to go through a chain of command to apply within? Or maybe that is just federal or within same states.

As far as references go, I agree with Hiker. It is bad form to use people as professional references without their knowledge or consent. I have been an HR Manager for 15+ years, and I take professional references seriously (but with a grain of salt - most people wouldn't list anyone that would give a bad review). I recently was terminated from my job, but asked some fellow Managers at the company if I could use them as references, they agreed and I listed them.

Another tip when using references is to try and give the reference(s) a heads up to the jobs that you are applying for, so they can frame their responses appropriate to the job in question.
posted by mnb64 at 6:23 AM on April 29, 2010

Would it be possible to ask the jobs that she's applying for not to speak to her current employers until they are ready to make an offer and to let her know before they do? This is more likely to work if she has good references from previous jobs.
posted by Laura_J at 8:16 AM on April 29, 2010

Thanks everyone, more concerned about the question than the part about not informing the references first. This was her first job out of college so previous job references would include pre-degree type jobs, however she did work at a bank for several years in high school and college so I guess we could consider that as a possibility.
posted by modoriculous at 9:34 AM on April 29, 2010

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