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Thread: Prospect wants to contact current employer

  1. #1
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Prospect wants to contact current employer

    I may have something coming through in a different town, but they seem to be insistant on contacting my current employer. Throughout the application and interview process, I stated that they should not contact my current employer, which I have done throughout my career.
    Mind you, there is nothing I am hiding by this. However, my current boss has a tendency to let people go right as they put their notice of resignation in and I am unsure how I will be treated (if I am still employed) if word got out that I was looking elsewhere.
    Today, I got a soft offer from this organization, pending background, drug and reference checks. However, they were fairly insistant upon contacting my current employer. So I am in a bind. In the meantime, I was told to forward on my performance reviews and we would go from there.

    So has this been common? I have had other employers understand not contacting someone current. Could I ask for a concrete and official offer to come through before I grant them permission to contact my boss?

    I did a search and saw many examples from the private sector. I wonder how common this is in the public sector though.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

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  2. #2
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    I would tell your potential employer that you need a hard offer before they can call your current employer. Be upfront with them and say whenever your employer gets a reference call they let the employee go. Tell them you need assurances because you'll lose your job if they call.
    I burned down the church to atone for my transgressions.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by stroskey View post
    I would tell your potential employer that you need a hard offer before they can call your current employer. Be upfront with them and say whenever your employer gets a reference call they let the employee go. Tell them you need assurances because you'll lose your job if they call.

    This, most definitely. Absent a firm job offer, you're risking them contacting your current employer, who lets you go upon learning that you're looking elsewhere, only to have the perspective employer revoke your "soft" offer. At that point, you're what we call "unemployed."

    The only exception to this would be if your current position is so horrible that you'd leave regardless (and that unemployment is perhaps only slightly less desirable than your current position).

    And places still drug test these days? Yeesh... don't think I've ever seen a planner driving a forklift *shrug*. Must be public sector...
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  4. #4
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by stroskey View post
    I would tell your potential employer that you need a hard offer before they can call your current employer. Be upfront with them and say whenever your employer gets a reference call they let the employee go. Tell them you need assurances because you'll lose your job if they call.
    This. And I have a very, very low opinion of HR departments, so be direct and clear and no chance of misunderstandings.
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  5. #5
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by stroskey View post
    I would tell your potential employer that you need a hard offer before they can call your current employer. Be upfront with them and say whenever your employer gets a reference call they let the employee go. Tell them you need assurances because you'll lose your job if they call.
    Definitely. It is unfortunate that your boss just let's quality people go without a fight. This is great advice. They can always rescinded an offer based on a poor character reference. Even suggest it as a clause.
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    It's also good to have a written letter of offer in the event you DON'T get the new job AND you are terminated to justify unemployment benefits (at the unemployment office) from your first job. Otherwise, what's to say you were terminated for cause?
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  7. #7
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    It's too bad your current employer is that uptight. In my recent job switch, I was able to tell my former employer after I had received a soft offer. But I knew they wouldn't terminate me. Hell, they even tried to get me to come back 2 months after I left.

    I would request that them contacting your current employer be the last thing that they do, after the background/drug check and other references have been called.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  8. #8
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Yeah, the dealings with my current employer will be the last thing they do and we made it clear that permission has not been granted as of yet.
    I will most likely ask for the hard, full job offer prior to allowing them to contact my current guy. But they did also say they needed to talk to someone at my current job and I will clarify that.

    In the meantime, they will be doing the other checks, background and MVR. This would be the first place in which I will have been drug tested. But that doesn't worry me.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  9. #9
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by zman View post
    Yeah, the dealings with my current employer will be the last thing they do and we made it clear that permission has not been granted as of yet.
    I will most likely ask for the hard, full job offer prior to allowing them to contact my current guy. But they did also say they needed to talk to someone at my current job and I will clarify that.

    In the meantime, they will be doing the other checks, background and MVR. This would be the first place in which I will have been drug tested. But that doesn't worry me.
    Yeah, this was the first time I've had to take a drug test as well (outside of the factory job I had during a summer years ago after high school).
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    I'd be nervous about any potential employer who insisted on contacting your current employer, unless that is really your only reference. Is there someone at your current employer who may not be the head cheese but can give a more discreet reference for you?

  11. #11
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Masswich View post
    I'd be nervous about any potential employer who insisted on contacting your current employer, unless that is really your only reference. Is there someone at your current employer who may not be the head cheese but can give a more discreet reference for you?
    That's what I was thinking. I actually prefer coworker references to supervisor references, though it is best to have both available.

    As far as your resistence to giving permission to contact your current employer, just be honest with them and tell them his/her track record of canning people that he/she finds out are looking for other jobs. What you are encountering is unfortunately not all that unusual in the city management world.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  12. #12
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Suburb Repairman View post
    That's what I was thinking. I actually prefer coworker references to supervisor references, though it is best to have both available.
    Sadly, after many years in the workforce and witness to many years of backstabbing, not only do I not trust HR depts, but I trust few coworkers as well. One hopes this is not the case with the OP. The creeping BigBrotherism of useless drug tests is another topic for another day.
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  13. #13
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    The thing that struck me as odd from your original post is that they wanted to see your past performance reviews. I have never heard of that before. As for myself, I do not even keep them in the places where they were done.

    Is there a way you could satisfy their need by letting them speak to someone else at the city, in a senior position, who can attest to your abilities and will not let word get out to the administrator? Perhaps you could direct them to talk with the public works director or someone else you may work with on a regular basis.
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  14. #14
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    If they have to contact someone then have them contact someone you are close to that you work with.

    When I was in that situation I had them call my HR department rather than my supervisor. All my HR department did was confirm that I worked for the organization, my start date and that I was in good standing. Until that call I could not proceed. I asked my HR director if she shared that she got a reference check call with my boss and she told me no that was not her practice and she get those calls quite often for credit checks, utility turn-ons, etc. I would ask if you can do everything else, first and if you pass then allow them to call your employers.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  15. #15
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    I appreciate all the help and notes.

    The biggest thing here is that I am in a small town without a large staff (we have 11) and without a formal HR department. And I am the #2 guy. I do have a subordinate who would be willing to offer a quiet reference, but would they be looking for that?

    I am more than happy to send out my reviews in lieu of them calling up the boss. Things are done a little differently here (read, not necessarily professional), which is one reason I was rooting around elsewhere... regardless, I will be writing them an email today regarding some other items they requested. I may ask them what kind of reference they need from my current outfit, is it a character reference or more of an employment check and/or if I could get a formal, written offer of employment prior to allowing them to contact my boss.

    I could get by a couple more weeks in December if I am let go early as long as I am employed in the New Year.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

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