Co-workers? Supervisees?
May 9, 2011 5:41 PM   Subscribe

If not a current supervisor, who do you ask for a job recommendation?

I've read a number of responses here that state pretty emphatically,
"do not ask your current supervisor for a job recommendation." My problem with that: I work in a very small place. The department is pretty much myself and my boss. I could ask a co-worker, but they all work in different areas. I could ask someone whom I supervise, but I don't know if that's something that people usually do (also, I don't supervise them for very many hours a week at all). What to do? I definitely think that I should include a recommendation from my current job, or that would look suspicious. Am I wrong?

The other thing is that: my supervisor knows that I will someday leave this position. I am overqualified, underpaid, and underemployed. She knows this. She has even told me about new jobs popping up in my field in the area.

What would you do, oh wise ones?
posted by sugarbomb to Work & Money (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I have never included a reference from my current job. Sometimes I don't include on from my current job or my two or three previous jobs. I just make a list of people who would say good things about me- I doubt the people calling them (if they even call them) even look at when you worked together.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:44 PM on May 9, 2011

I work in an environment where I can and do ask my supervisors for professional recommendations. In turn, my supervisors have been enthusiastically supportive of my search. They've been pointing out positions and suggesting leads, and have repeatedly served as references. If you work in a similar environment, and your supervisor is already helping you with your job search, she probably won't mind giving you a recommendation.

In contrast to drjimmy11's experience, my supervisors have been called and asked about me in detail, so it helped that they are my current supervisors and know my work very well. YMMV.
posted by Nomyte at 5:56 PM on May 9, 2011

As a hiring manager, I don't think I've ever hired anyone WITHOUT talking to their current or most recent supervisor. I think obviously you want to make sure your manager isn't surprised by the call, but if she's OK with it, go for it.

To be honest, I have almost zero interest in "self-selected" references; anyone can find a list of three people who will say nice things about them. That gives me exactly zero information about how good an employee they will actually be. YMMV, of course.
posted by purenitrous at 6:21 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding "people who would say good things" about you whether that's a current co-worker or someone you've supervised or someone else entirely. People should understand that you have a job, you don't want to lose that job, and it's sensitive. FWIW, when I was last looking, I put them in touch with a former editor and a colleague who I haven't worked directly but who I knew would say nice things about me.
posted by kat518 at 6:23 PM on May 9, 2011

The part where you don't ask your current supervisor is if you have reasonable fear that you will be canned if the supervisor finds out you're job hunting.

I think in your case, your boss might just understand? I get the vibe that she would be okay, if she even recommends that you look for jobs!
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:53 PM on May 9, 2011

Do you have someone with whom you worked but is no longer at your organization? I served as a reference for a former coworker who asked me precisely because I didn't work there anymore. I had nothing but good things to say about her, and she got the job.
posted by look busy at 10:45 PM on May 9, 2011

Just ask anyone you've worked with to leave you recommendations on LinkedIn. Or, better, yet, recommend them first and many will reciprocate.
posted by jeffamaphone at 11:28 PM on May 9, 2011

Another option is to ask some of your vendors and/or customers to be professional references. I've used our benefits broker, our Verizon business rep, and a few others that I've worked closely with. While I agree that self-selecting refs pretty much guarantees positive remarks, a skilled interviewer can get past the "good" stuff and find out more about you.

I've also always kept one or two former supervisors in my queue of references. In this job environment, someone is always moving on.

Good luck!
posted by sundrop at 4:32 AM on May 10, 2011

"do not ask your current supervisor for a job recommendation."

There is a strong tendency for employers to consider job-hunting employees to be engaging in a sort of betrayal. (Even when this is an utterly delusional position.) Also, if you are unsuccessful in landing a job as quickly as you hoped, it can put you in a poor position for negotiating your next raise/promotion.

Even those who aren't subjected to the stinkeye often keep their job search a secret, as it can be potentially a bit embarrassing if word gets around to coworkers that you interviewed elsewhere but were passed over.

However, if your direct boss supports your job search, there's no issue here. My former boss also supported my efforts to look for a job where I would be more appreciated -- it's awesome when this happens, it's just sadly uncommon.
posted by desuetude at 6:37 AM on May 10, 2011

Awesome, everyone. Thanks. I've decided that, based on my current situation and in light of your input, it's fine to ask my current supervisor.
posted by sugarbomb at 8:14 PM on May 10, 2011

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