Should I still use my former supervisor as a job reference?
May 17, 2015 2:15 AM   Subscribe

I left this medical supply company last November due to multiple employees leaving, declining accounts, and the inability to be consistently compliant with Medicare standards. My previous supervisor was laid off, and he ended up working for a university medical center that is ranked top 10 in the U.S. While I was working at the medical supply company, we would keep in touch and he encouraged me to look for a better gig.

He also inquired about my previous work experience of 8 years that was relevant to the department that he is currently managing. He asked me to email him my resume, as he may need someone down the road in 2015 to fill in a position being vacated by an employee going on maternity leave. I eventually found something closer to home to escape the medical supply company, but it was a position that didn't cater to my strengths and long-term interest. The company I'm currently working for is a place to use as a stepping stone, and I had aspirations to get a job at the university medical center. My former supervisor is a great resource to have in getting a job, and he goes out of his way to text me job opportunities. Then I realized that he likes me enough to inform me about job opportunities, but not enough to bring me into his department. Should I still use this person as a job reference down the road?

Last month, my previous supervisor posted on social media that he was looking for someone full-time in his department. Twenty-five minutes after his status post, I immediately texted him to get details in regards to when the job posting was going up online. I had the mindset that he could not just give me the position under the table, and I had to go through the proper channels by sending in my application. He didn't necessarily guarantee a position to me when we were talking about my relevant work experience. I got the idea that I'd be the first person in his mind when something comes up down the road. I was cautiously optimistic about the opportunity, as it felt too good to be true in landing a job at my dream place through an inside connection.

Once a week, I'd follow up with him about the status of the job opening. During the 1st week, I asked him to give me a head's up when the job was going to be posted. No reply. The following week, I texted him again to see when the job listing was going up. He replied that it may take a week. The third week, I finally saw the job listing and applied for it. A week and half went by, and I texted him one more time to get an idea when he'll be moving forward with the process. No reply again, and I got the vibe that I wasn't first on the list to get the position.

I found out through a mutual friend that my friend/former co-worker was the one who got the position. My girlfriend was upset about the decision since my former co-worker only had 2 years of work experience while I had 10+ years on her. I also had a job interview for another position within the same medical center back in January, the hiring manager worked in collaboration with my former supervisor within the same clinic. My former supervisor told me that the hiring manager reached out to him about me, and he gave the best possible recommendation. Unfortunately, I still didn't get the job.

My girlfriend is weary of using my former supervisor as a reference/network resource in the event I have another job interview at the medical center. The guy would go out of his way to text me a potential job opportunity every now and then, but not like me enough to even get an interview at the very least. I still want to work at the university medical center, and having a reference who is a manager would seem like a big help. Any opinions/feedback on the topic would be greatly appreciated.
posted by tnar23 to Work & Money (6 answers total)
Hiring is a very complicated process in many companies and just because you're given the opportunity to apply doesn't mean that this guy has any pull one way or the other in terms of getting you an interview. If he's sending you job opportunities, I think you can count on him for a decent reference, so I'd definitely keep him in mind.
posted by xingcat at 3:14 AM on May 17, 2015 [9 favorites]

Please remember legally he really can't give you any more information once you apply. He has to treat you the same as any other applicant.

he is texting you regularly job postings that you qualify for. I'd use him as reference. If you are concerned about a particular position just ask him.
posted by AlexiaSky at 4:54 AM on May 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

I have encouraged former co-workers to apply to jobs I was pretty sure they wouldn't get for some reason or another -- department already had a candidate and was just going through the motions; not enough experience; pay wasn't right. There's a few reasons I do this -- the "better" candidates might not work out; it gets their foot in the door for other opportunities; it's good practice.

Your former boss is doing you favors. Let him.
posted by Etrigan at 5:50 AM on May 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

I agree with the others- it sounds like he is trying to help but may not be able to influence the process as much as you'd like.

We recently hired at my work - over 20 of the candidates came to us through someone in our organization. We couldn't possibly interview them all.
posted by scrute at 6:07 AM on May 17, 2015

Look at the big picture. He has already gone further out of his way for you than . . . any supervisor I ever had. That fact that he couldn't/didn't do as much as you'd hoped in this recent case doesn't change that.

I can understand being stung and disappointed, but don't make this into a story about personal betrayal or your friend not liking you that much. It isn't that. Don't show your hurt feelings and try not to carry a grudge.

This guy almost certainly still wants to help you out if you will let him.
posted by mattu at 7:39 AM on May 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

I work at a large university hospital. The hiring process is...complicated. And if he isn't the manager of the department that's hiring (as in, he might be a supervisor but not the actual hiring manager) he has no say in anything. He might be doing all he can by sending you the postings. In fact, it's a big favor because it saves you from having to comb through their job listing and I bet they have a lot.

I think you're safe in keeping him as a reference, just don't expect him to make anything happen. Also, I think I would ease up on the follow up texts. If he passes a posting along, thank him and keep an eye out for it yourself. I'd text him to let him know I applied, so that he can expect a possible request for a reference.

Good luck to you! It's hard to get in the door at employers like this, where I work some people apply relentlessly for months!
posted by DrGirlfriend at 8:48 AM on May 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

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