By Jonathan Rivett
Question: Following your December 4 column about moving on after a lengthy job stint, what would you recommend in the way of references for such a person?
When offering references for a new job, normally you can offer a referee contact from a previous job. But if you’ve been in the current job [like me] for 15 years, the referee from the previous job may not be considered relevant.
I would not dare ask my current long-stint employer for a reference – if I did not get the new job, life would be hell, and I’d have to leave anyway – I’d ultimately be forced out, with or without a new job. Yes, there might be some recourse to such an employer but, at the end of the day, I still need a job. The current employer will “turn” on even valued employees if they show they are not committed.
Answer: I find it interesting that some employers expect utter professionalism and total conformity from people who work for them but can’t rise above the level of slighted child when an employee decides to leave. What a pity your boss’s juvenility has put you in this situation.
I asked Associate Professor Timothy Bednall from the School of Business, Law and Entrepreneurship at Swinburne University of Technology to offer his advice again on this question (which is so closely related to the one he helped with last year).
“My sympathies to you, as your current employer seems like they would be a difficult one to work with.
“If it really is the case that the relationship is likely to be spoiled by applying for a new job, I would definitely refrain from communicating this until I had received a concrete offer from a new employer.”
Professor Bednall says he would approach the problem by concentrating on two things.
“First, if you have been asked to nominate referees – congratulations, as this usually means that an employer is very interested in you or, at the very least, that you’ve been shortlisted for a role.
“The important thing to note is that reference checks usually take place fairly late in the selection process. So, for many roles, you do not necessarily need to provide a list of referees on your application; you can instead offer to provide referees on request. Doing so gives you more control over the process, and allows you to alert your referees that they will be contacted by your potential employer.”
The second, Professor Bednall says, is that most employers understand that there are sensitivities involved in conducting reference checks within your current workplace. Your current employer won’t necessarily expect to be asked to be a referee and your potential future employee will understand your need for discretion. Those with the job of recruiting are generally happy to speak not with a current boss, but with a candidate’s colleagues. And if you don’t have a trusted peer to use as a referee you could consider a former colleague.
“If this is not possible, there is another approach you could consider. You could find out from the new employer what kinds of information they require from your referees, and then think more broadly about where they could acquire it from your professional network. For instance, you could think about any regular customers or clients that you have worked with. If you have done any volunteer work within a group, these colleagues could also be potential referees,” Professor Bednall says.
“Ideally, you want to choose someone you have worked with directly, who can offer a credible external perspective on your knowledge, experience and approach to work. That person does not necessarily have to be your employer.”
Work Therapy is back for 2022 and we’re always after questions from readers. Send yours through to [email protected]
Source: Thanks smh.com