• Ongoing coronavirus / COVID-19 discussion: how is the pandemic affecting your community, workplace, and wellness? 🦠

    Working from home? So are we. Come join us! Cyburbia is a friendly big tent, where we share our experiences and thoughts about urban planning practice, planning adjacent topics, and whatever else comes to mind. No ads, no spam, no social distancing.

Job Hunting Advice - References

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
As most of you know I am actively job hunting.

Resume seems to be working, when it is the style the HR department wants.

When I get interviews they seem to go ok.

Now just wondering about references and reference checks.

Who do you put down for your references and do future employers wonder what may be wrong with you if you don't put your current employer down? How much weight do you figure reference checks have on getting a job?
 

SlaveToTheGrind

Cyburbian
Messages
1,391
Points
26
Sometims I have been asked for professional or personal references. I always list my current work. I think it can look bad if you say not to contact your current employer. After all, if you have been working for the same employer for several years, I don't think it matters who you worked for before your current job. If the interviewer can't contact your present employer, I think it is a strike against you.

FYI - Came in the mail last week.

Senior Planner, City of Ketchum, Idaho

The City of Ketchum is adjacent to the City of Sun Valley and Bald Mountain, a premier winter and summer resort in North America.

The ideal candidate will have a thorough understanding of the principles and practices of urban planning. Strong communication and presentation skills, analytical abilities and problem solving aptitude are essential. Candidates should have the ability to work well with the Planning and Zoning Commission, City Council, the public, citizen committees, developers and other interest groups. Experience with historical preservation, transportation planning, economic development, affordable housing, resort communities and tourist issues are a benefit.

Minimum Qualifications: Bachelor’s Degree in urban or regional planning plus four (4) years progressively responsible experience in local planning, or Masters Degree in urban and regional planning and 2 year’s experience.

Starting salary range is $3,861 to $4,269 per month depending on qualifications. The City offers an excellent benefit package. More information about the City of Ketchum can be found at www.ketchumidaho.org. The deadline for submitting a cover letter and resume is February 13, 2004. Send resume and cover letter to Ron LeBlanc, City Administrator, City of Ketchum, P.O. Box 2315, Ketchum, ID 83340, or email to rleblanc@ketchumidaho.org.

(12.29.03)
 

NHPlanner

A shadow of my former self
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,928
Points
40
I always have my current employer as reference #1.

In doing interviews for candidates, this is one of the first things I look at for references, current employer. I don't put as much weight on the actual checking of the current employer reference, as there's usually a reason that the applicant is seeking new employment, but I do take it as a negative if the current employer is not a reference.

I put much more weight into the other reference checks after the current employer, but my #1 criteria for an applicant is the interview. MY guestimate is about 25% weight of references.
 

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
Messages
13,852
Points
39
It can be difficult to list a current employer as a reference (for many reasons). In that case, I try to enlist a highly-placed co-worker (last time it was Chief Planner instead of the Planning Director) or other manager who is familiar with my work. Hasn't been a problem in getting new positions.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
I am just concerned that as my relationship with my current supervisor/employer degrades, and it is degrading quickly, he will be unable to see past how mad he is at me in providing a good reference to future employers. The friction between us is increasing at an exponential rate for each of eachothers actions.

I also think he knows that when I leave it is going to be difficult to find someone to replace me and may be not providing teh best reference he could.

my references are as follows

director of curent employer
Director of Engineering for City we work with
Manager of BIA that we did work with/for.

Any suggestions for others. I know I could get the Clerk and pretty sure my past employer (from 5 years ago) would say good things about me.
 

Queen B

Cyburbian
Messages
3,178
Points
25
I would think listing current employer could at times be a problem.
I always list references available upon request and that way I have a bit of control in asking for discretion in certain situations.

There are currently two positions open here in Kansas in County gov. Shawnee County is divorcing the city and is creating a whole new department.
And the position I am trying for here in Saline County.
I am just hpoing that if they hire an outside person it is someone that I can get along with.
I put in my application yesterday closing for apps is 1/25, wish me luck!
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
The approach used by Zoning Goddess and Queen B closely matches what I have been doing. I explain that I am trying to keep my job search a secret from my employer, and I understand if they need to do a reference check as a last step before offering the position, I will give then the name of one of my board members. (I report directly to the board, and not to the mayor.) I do give them prefessional references outside of the organization, and one or two other department managers at the city. Ironically, while many ask for references, they don't seem to check with them.
 

GeogPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
1,433
Points
25
i use 3 personal references: friends with street credibility (a doctor, a nurse, and a cardiac specialist...go figure, most of my friends are into medical work...)

then 3 professional references: usually people from past jobs that were higher up and a professor from college.

previously, i was in the situation where i did not want word getting out that i am looking around and in that case, i use one person where i was working who agreed to keep it VERY quiet, a friend who is a planning consultant that i have worked with in the past, and a co-worker from a previous job. i make it clear to the prospective employer that i would appreciate discretion because it would raise some concerns if some people knew i was looking (not just my employer at the time but some of the other people i work with including 2 of my references i used for the job i had at the time) may not take the news well, it would make things very awkward.

be honest about your references. if you have to use some discretion, tell the place you are interviewing with about that discretion.
 
Messages
5,352
Points
31
There is no way on this earth that I would use my current employer as a reference. Unless they tell you to find another job, it's professional suicide to let them know you're actively seeking. I would prefer to use either a co-worker or a client who's familiar with my work.
 

NHPlanner

A shadow of my former self
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,928
Points
40
I should probably clarify my original post....

I don't necessarily mean that my supervisor is on my reference list, but someone from my current employer is always on the list (typically a supervisor, but not necessarily the department head).
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
I'd prefer not to have my supervisor on the list, but in a small office, 6 people total, it is hard not to. I definitely would not want the Building Inspectors to be my references. Nice guys, do their jobs well, but not the type of people I'd want discussing professionalism or ability to think with.
 

mike gurnee

Cyburbian
Messages
3,066
Points
31
When leaving my last position, my references were
board chair
local news reporter (no joke)
city attorney
division head under me

here, I would put down the head of the homebuilders

They usually contact the boss regardless. You can state that they not be contacted until/unless you get an offer if there are issues.
 

Seabishop

Cyburbian
Messages
3,838
Points
25
Planderella said:
There is no way on this earth that I would use my current employer as a reference. Unless they tell you to find another job, it's professional suicide to let them know you're actively seeking. I would prefer to use either a co-worker or a client who's familiar with my work.
I agree. I've got a former co-worker above me who quit. I've been meaning to ask another co-worker who I trust, but I can't ask her at work, so I've been trying to follow her out the door after work. I've been unsuccessful at getting her alone. She must think I'm very creepy by now. So far no potential employer has been intrested enough to care about my references. :( I've got to work on developing an "aggressively friendly" personality for interviews.
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
30
I think that it is important to have a reference with your current employer that is familiar with your work. When applying for my current job, I listed two supervisors that I had at my then-current job, but not my immediate supervisor at the time for similar reasons that donk has stated. In the interview I explained some of the circumstances for my leaving and my relationship with my current supervisor, and then mentioned that I would be happy to give them her name if they wished. As it turned out, none of my supervisors would talk to them anyway due to liability issues and the person checking my references was referred to HR. If you have a degrading relationship with your current supervisor, maybe using HR as a reference would help... have them review your employee file and then give out any facts about your performance. A lot of West Coast cities are doing this anyway...
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
The question that that brought this on has been answered. I have a final interview next week, how things can change within a few hours,

If it does not go well, maybe I can list Rumpy and Jeff as references? ;)

Or are there better cyburbanites to use?
 

Gedunker

Moderating
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
11,398
Points
39
Congratulations and good luck with the final interview donk ! I know from your previous posts how much you want a change -- we're pulling for you.

Rumpy and Jeff?? Yeah, that's the ticket! :-\
 

GeogPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
1,433
Points
25
donk,

if you need someone with a long title that sounds like it could be someone important, i'm the guy. i'll even let you pick which title of 3 to use.

OT: anyone here ever go up against another cyburbanite for the same job?
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
GeogPlanner said:
OT: anyone here ever go up against another cyburbanite for the same job?
I am not aware of ever competing against another Cyburbanite, although there are several people in Wisconsin I know I have ben up against in past competitions. So far, I have beat them out. :-D
 

Rumpy Tunanator

Cyburbian
Messages
4,473
Points
25
donk said:
The question that that brought this on has been answered. I have a final interview next week, how things can change within a few hours,

If it does not go well, maybe I can list Rumpy and Jeff as references? ;)

Or are there better cyburbanites to use?
So you need a reference huh, I was thinking the same thing myself;)
 

Jeff

Cyburbian
Messages
4,161
Points
27
Put me down as a reference!!

Seriously, my current job I wouldn't mind putting a "higher up" as a reference, not the boss though. It just doesn't seem right. My previous job, I hope I never have to use any of them as refs, is it wrong to think that nobody at your previous job is "qualified" enough to give you a reference?
 

JNA

Cyburbian Plus
Messages
25,590
Points
59
Great insight - thank-you.

?related - how to handle applications - if where you worked before has had such a turnover that nobody knows you, who should list as supervisor?
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
JNA said:
Great insight - thank-you.

?related - how to handle applications - if where you worked before has had such a turnover that nobody knows you, who should list as supervisor?
Or what about when my previous employer is no longer in existence, and the one before that is a decade ago? Does it make the job seem less credible, when the non-profit I worked for ceased operations a couple years after I left (and should I point out that it was after I left)? How do I deal with the question of who to contact? It has been over seven years and I have not kept in touch with any of my old board members there. As for the other job, ending in 1994, there is nobody left from when I worked there.

I have had people contact me about the person who held my job until 1994. About all I can say is that yes, he worked here, and I know nothing about him besides that.
 

Richmond Jake

You can't fight in here. This is the War Room!
Messages
18,313
Points
44
I hear you Cardinal... I recently read where my last city manager and most of his staff left where I last worked. I'm not sure what to do with that reference. Then again, when you use a reference from a public agency they're generally not allowed to give out much info other than duration of employment. The lawyers, you know.
 

GeogPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
1,433
Points
25
i have a professional relationship with most of my references, so when they move/change jobs, i still continue using them. i tell the interviewer about how i know my references...so if someone was once a supervisor but no longer, that comes up in that discussion.
 

tsc

Cyburbian
Messages
1,905
Points
23
I have done the same as ZG.... and most future employers understand that some bosses can get a bit testy if they know you are looking to leave.
 

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
I would never list my current employer to contact no matter how good the relationship is. If they think your leaving, you are as good as gone, regardless of how your interviews turn out.

But, of course, I would always give ample notice once it was definite that I am leaving.

I would list people I currently work with in a professional setting, like a peer you trust in a different (separate) organization. This way you get a current reference without rocking the boat at your current place of work. I would also list the most recent supervisors at previous jobs to cover a supervisor’s angle.

Good luck. :)
 
Last edited:

GeogPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
1,433
Points
25
Salary

spinning OT for a second...how do people handle salary inquiries? some jobs don't advertise the salary or salary range...should you/do you ask? what if you are traveling a good distance to interview...? how should you ask if you do?
 

Mastiff

Gunfighter
Messages
7,181
Points
30
Planderella said:
There is no way on this earth that I would use my current employer as a reference. Unless they tell you to find another job, it's professional suicide to let them know you're actively seeking. I would prefer to use either a co-worker or a client who's familiar with my work.
I agree, but only to a point.

If I'm just "looking around" just to see what's out there, no big deal. But if I get to the point where I intend to leave, I believe it's prudent to let an employer know... especially if you're taking time off for an interview. You gain quite a bit of respect if you sit down with your boss (or, sometimes, their boss!) and explain that you are looking and why.

In Donks case, it sounds like it would be best to go over his supervisors head, and speak to the bigger boss. I'd probably couch it in this manner, "I just wanted to let you know up front that I'm sending out some inquiries about future employment." It's going to lead to some difficult questions, but it's easy to prepare for them... "Well, sir, I believe the senior planner and I disagree on a number of issues, and some basic philosophy as it relates to planning. It does cause some friction, but more, I want to be able to utilize my talents to their fullest extent."

Then, toss them the ball. Here are two beauties:

- "Of course, I intend to continue to perform here at the highest level, but should I find other employment, how much notice will you need? I know filling a position can sometimes be difficult, but I hope to make your transition as easy as possible..."

- "I do believe that I have always given my best efforts here, and hope I can count on a solid reference... Would you be willing to write a letter of recommendation for me to attach to my resume?"

Anyway... Since I graduated, I've never just put in notice. I always let the bosses know I was looking. Aside from losing one year end bonus (long story), it has always worked very well for me. Most employers understand "moving on", and appreciate the advanced notice.


In answer to H's post:

Not in my opinion. If you are hunting, as opposed to exploring an opportunity, you are as good as gone. If you see a job you really want, and it's just that one you want... say so! "Listen boss, this is a huge opportunity... It isn't that I want to leave here, but I have to do what I believe is best for myself and family. Should I not be selected for this job, I don't intend to go anywhere."

I've had several bosses give me advice on city's they knew, or people I might work for... and it was invaluable.


By the way, anyone see the job in Florence, OR? Sheesh... Talk about tailor made for me! They couldn't have fit me to that job description any better unless they'd mentioned me by name!
 

Mastiff

Gunfighter
Messages
7,181
Points
30
GeogPlanner said:
spinning OT for a second...how do people handle salary inquiries? some jobs don't advertise the salary or salary range...should you/do you ask? what if you are traveling a good distance to interview...? how should you ask if you do?

Call and ask about the salary. And don't let them give you the "depends on experience" line... get a range. If all else fails, get a copy of the budget, or the salary of the previous employee. It's public record.

Once you reach "senior" level, always ask that your trip be reimbursed. If they have your resume, and don't want to pay your way, they don't want you bad enough. Again, just my opinion... If it's your dream job? Maybe.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
GeogPlanner said:
spinning OT for a second...how do people handle salary inquiries? some jobs don't advertise the salary or salary range...should you/do you ask? what if you are traveling a good distance to interview...? how should you ask if you do?
I usually ask or they offer when seting up the interview. I turned down a few interviews, once the salary range had been discussed.

Mastiff said:
Once you reach "senior" level, always ask that your trip be reimbursed. If they have your resume, and don't want to pay your way, they don't want you bad enough. Again, just my opinion... If it's your dream job? Maybe.
I've asked a few, been told yes, ask for the cheque at teh interview and they look at me like I'm on crack. I also think that due to our income tax laws, (ie if I get the job the cost of the interview is a tax deduction, so if they pay it and I accept it then it is taxable income, same with moving expenses) it is uncommon for a public sector employer to pay for travel.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
donk said:
I've asked a few, been told yes, ask for the cheque at teh interview and they look at me like I'm on crack. I also think that due to our income tax laws, (ie if I get the job the cost of the interview is a tax deduction, so if they pay it and I accept it then it is taxable income, same with moving expenses) it is uncommon for a public sector employer to pay for travel.
In my experience, it depends on where you are interviewing. In the midwest it is unusual for the employer NOT to pick up the tab if you are coming from further than a half-day's drive. I have usually been told to bring the receipt to the interview and have always received a check within a couple of weeks. Most of these cities offer some assistance with moving expenses as well - I have never accepted a professional job without getting this.

California cities almost never offer to pay the cost, regardless of how far you may have to come. That is one more reason that I have stopped looking there. The Pacific Northwest is mixed. About half of the cities offer to pay. Interestingly, I have always found that some influential person on the hiring team (mayor, city manager, etc.) originally came from the midwest.

I have no knowledge of customs in the east or south, as I am not really looking in those areas.
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
Messages
2,549
Points
25
I don't put my current employer on resumes, but I have in the past when they know that I was looking to move up. Sometimes I have put a person who used to work with me at my current job as a reference, but I think that if I tried using my supervisor here it would make things very uncomfortable. I just let the prospective employer know that my current employer does not know that I am seeking employment elsewhere and that I would prefer that they not contact them.
 

Mastiff

Gunfighter
Messages
7,181
Points
30
Cardinal said:
The Pacific Northwest is mixed. About half of the cities offer to pay. Interestingly, I have always found that some influential person on the hiring team (mayor, city manager, etc.) originally came from the midwest.
One of the reasons I came here.... It's tough making a big jump across several states for that very reason. Many places pay "up to" a certain amount, as our last CA hiring was $300. They paid everything for me, including airfare, hotel, car rental, and food. Thay also put $4,000 into my contract for moving expenses.

Now I'm in the area where I want to stay.
 
Top