Help! New boss talking to current boss!
August 28, 2011 8:57 PM   Subscribe

How do I get potential employers not to call my current employer (when they've already requested to) for a reference?

Hi! I'm hoping someone can help me answer the question of why I would rather not have a potential employer contact a current employer at the end of an interview. I have two interviews coming up this week for dream jobs of mine, but I know both potential employers will want to talk to my current employer about my performance (I'm in a specialized field in education). Normally this would not be a problem. I am a great worker. My boss is happy and my clients are happy. However, I know my boss will take my leaving personally and make my life at work miserable if I do not get either of these jobs. I know most potential employers understand why there would be a conflict of interest in this situation. However, I work in the field of education in Canada, and public sector employees don't understand how difficult the private system can be -- we're at the mercy of our current bosses for everything. I am trying to move from a private school job to a much-coveted public, government position. My current employer really wants me to stay. She is not a nice woman and has had countless tantrums for various reasons since I've worked there over the past year. Having potential employers calling her makes me nervous. How do I ask my interviewers not to call my current boss unless they are offering me a position so that the rest of my school year is not awkward and awful?

Please hope me. I've searched previous entries, but haven't found answers that will work for me.
posted by heffalump to Human Relations (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have other references? Have you already given them your current employer's information? Just give them other references instead, even if you've already given them info, bring a new sheet of references to the interview, and give it to them.
posted by brainmouse at 9:02 PM on August 28, 2011

I've dealt with this many times. "My current employer isn't currently aware that I'm looking for opportunities elsewhere, and until a position is confirmed I would like to keep it that way. Here are some other people I've worked with in this capacity that would be happy to speak with you."

You are like, the eleventy billionth person to have this problem, it is truly not a big deal at all, and any hirer will understand and not call your current employer.
posted by smoke at 9:05 PM on August 28, 2011 [28 favorites]

Also, they don't call references until after an interview, so no worries on that score.
posted by smoke at 9:06 PM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

This is Canadian government employees we're talking about. When they say they want to call your current employer, they mean it. Getting much-coveted Canadian government jobs means jumping through hoops perfectly, a thousand times in a row.
posted by Yowser at 10:21 PM on August 28, 2011

And being the Canadian government, they might just call your references first. Sometimes during a "job competition" they'll do the cheaper things(such as reference checks) earlier on...
posted by Yowser at 10:23 PM on August 28, 2011

Well I don't know anything about Canadian government employers, so if they're really a higher life form then I guess your options are limited.

As a US employer I would respect a candidate's position not to have me call their current boss, because of exactly the reason given. However, I would ask for a peer or subordinate reference instead - because folks can usually find somebody they trust at work to give a reference confidentially. I would be hesitant to make a job offer if I couldn't talk to anybody.
posted by Long Way To Go at 10:43 PM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

Although I personally have always used Smoke's line above, it seems like you can't do that here. However, Mr. Murrey recently had a subordinate come and ask him to give a reference to a potential employer, which he was happy to do. Do you have a supervisor who would be understanding of your very normal desire for career enhancement and would give you a good reference? If so, go to that person in advance to let them know you are interviewing for her dream job and simply request.

Mr. Murrey is a laid back and understanding person and would not want to limit anyone else's opportunities. So even though he really did not want to lose this employee, he did not wish to harm her career path.

That said, when she did not get the first job and asked a second time, he seemed to agree with me that if she happened to stay at her current employment, the multiple requests might give him pause about her future advancement in her current job. He was not being a jerk, but he would hate to pass over someone else for a promotion in her favor just to have her leave shortly thereafter.

(FWIW, she did not get the second job either, but all worked out well. She was hired internally in a different division of the company in the field she was hoping for...again with his glowing and well-earned recommendation).
posted by murrey at 4:27 AM on August 29, 2011

Oops...I meant to say a colleague (as opposed to supervisor, since yours seems a bad choice).
posted by murrey at 4:29 AM on August 29, 2011

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