I'm leaving, but I don't want them to know!
April 15, 2007 6:28 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a new job, but my current employer doesn't know it. What's a good line to put in my cover letter to prospective employers that basically says "My employer doesn't know I'm leaving - please don't contact them," while not sounding sketchy or rude?

I know that most employers know not to contact the current employer until they've been given the go-ahead, but my current employer is particularly vindictive, and will probably fire me if it finds out I'm looking. So I'm just looking for a line that will make it extra clear that they shouldn't contact my current employer.

Or is this rude and unnecessary?
posted by elquien to Work & Money (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Unnecessary. I do a lot of recruiting and would never think of just calling someone's current employer. I always assume that someone looking for a job is employed and their application should be treated as confidential unless I get their specific OK to contact list of references that they provide.
posted by charlesv at 6:39 PM on April 15, 2007

I always assume that someone looking for a job is employed

Agreed, unless they specifically say otherwise.

In the interest of efficiency, as well, most interviewers don't bother calling around for references until after the interview. Nobody wants to spend hours on the phone checking out references for people they can winnow out of the hiring process much earlier on. Don't worry.
posted by Miko at 6:42 PM on April 15, 2007

i doubt anyone would contact your current employer without permission. you can head them off by providing other references up front.

you might be able to get away with something like, "If it's necessary to speak to my current employer, please let me know so I can put you in touch with the right person." but i don't think it would be necessary to do so.
posted by thinkingwoman at 6:42 PM on April 15, 2007

Unnecessary. Unless you're in a tight-knit industry where your prospective boss might know your current boss and mention it. Or another such situation where there's already a relationship in place that would facilitate such communication about your leaving. Otherwise, most people assume you are searching secretly and aren't going to be ringing up your current boss.

If I need to say something about references, I generally give them 2-3 (that aren't my supervisor) and say that I would be happy to have them speak to my current employer, but only if I am the top candidate, since he/she doesn't know I'm looking and I don't want to inform them unless I am actually a viable candidate for the job. I've never had any problem with doing this and a few times, they didn't even bother with my current boss, my other references were enough.
posted by ml98tu at 7:20 PM on April 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't put your current employer's contact information on your resume if you don't want them contacted immediately. Just don't put their phone number -- most recruiters aren't going to bother to dig up the phone number on their own if you don't provide it.

In the past I've provided phone numbers for everyone but my current employer (the line where it says "1998-current") and I've never had anyone ask for it.

I think that sends the message pretty clearly.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:23 PM on April 15, 2007

I've only had one prospective employer ever want to contact my current employer... and that's because the new job required TS/SCI security clearance.
posted by jeversol at 7:30 PM on April 15, 2007

ml98tu's approach and word choice are great.

I don't work in a tight-knit industry, but I work in a relatively small city where most of the business leaders know each other and know my boss. If I am acquainted with the person I'm writing to about a position, I've said something to the effect of "I've enjoyed my time at XYZ Corp. but am in a quiet job search to explore other opportunities."

If I don't know the person, but know that he or she knows my boss, I've left it out of the letter but addressed it in the interview, in the vein of "I don't want to cause Bossman unnecessary anxiety."
posted by Sweetie Darling at 7:32 PM on April 15, 2007

I asked a similar question a few years ago. Some good answers in there (and some marked best).
posted by purephase at 7:58 PM on April 15, 2007

You have nothing to worry about. I just got hired for a new job and they did the security check prior to checking my references. That they would check references before meeting you for an interview seems improbable.
posted by sfkiddo at 9:31 PM on April 15, 2007

For a cover letter, something like:
Please accempt my resume enclosed and I look forward to discussing my qualifications in confidence (without the italics), or - please contact me in confidence to discuss opportunities with your company.

This typically gives the proper indication that you wish to keep your job search confidential for the time being.
posted by clanger at 9:22 AM on April 16, 2007

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