May 10, 2022    |    By

If you’re employed but you’re looking for a new job, you might want to consider asking your current employer for a reference. Your current employer can attest to your most recent skills and responsibilities.

As a result, hiring managers will have a much easier time validating the information on your resume. However, asking your current employer for a reference can be challenging.

Asking Your Current Employer For A Reference Can Be Tricky

Asking your current employer for a reference can be challenging for a few reasons. Firstly, if you’re looking for another job while still employed, it may seem disloyal to your current employer.

Secondly, if you’re leaving your current job on bad terms, your former employer may not be willing to give you a positive reference which can affect your chances of getting the job.

Finally, if you’re employed by a small company, your current employer may be concerned that giving you a reference will jeopardize their business. They may even tarnish your reputation in the reference to avoid losing you to another company.

What You Can Do When Asking For A Reference

To avoid making things awkward with your current employer, it’s important to handle things delicately. You don’t want to damage any kind of relationship you have with your employer, or it may make things difficult at work if you don’t get the job.

With that in mind, follow these tips:

Observe The Proper Etiquette

When asking for a reference, it’s important to observe the proper etiquette. For example, be sure to let the employer know well in advance that you’re going to apply for a different job.

Then ask them if they would be willing to provide you with a reference – but be sure to give them plenty of time to consider your request and to prepare a reference. Don’t ask them the day before you need to submit your job application.

Ask For A Private Meeting

When asking for a reference, it’s best to ask your employer in person. Request a private meeting so that you can tell them that you’re looking for a new job opportunity. Avoid just sending them an email requesting a reference.

Give them a chance to talk to you about it, because telling your employer in person is the most respectful way to go about the entire process.

Sell The Positive Angle

When you’re asking your employer for a reference, it’s essential to remind them of the positive contributions that you’ve made to the company. Be sure to give specific examples of how you’ve helped the company achieve its goals.
Doing so will help them remember why they hired you in the first place and make them feel comfortable supporting you with a reference.

However, don’t phrase things like they owe you. After all, they are the ones doing you a favor. Tell them that you want to retain a strong relationship with them and it’s one of the reasons you would like a reference from them. Be modest and thankful for all they’ve done for you.

Prepare For Rejection

Be prepared for the possibility that your current employer will say no. If they do, don’t take it personally. There could be any number of reasons for their rejection that are out of your control. Instead, focus on getting a reference from a different source, such as a previous employer or a client. If you are rejected, remain respectful and thank them for hearing you out.

Keep Your Employer Posted On Your Progress

Once you’ve got a reference from your current employer, keep them posted on your progress. If you end up getting the job, let them know and thank them for their help. Doing so will show that you’re grateful for their support and it will also help to strengthen your relationship with them.

What Mistakes To Avoid When Asking For A Reference

Because asking a current employer for a reference indicates that you’re looking for a different job, the matter can be quite sensitive. As such, there are a few mistakes to avoid.

Don’t Overlook Alternative Sources

While an employer recommendation can be helpful, it’s not the only way to get a reference. If you’re worried about asking your current employer, you can always ask a previous employer, client, or even a professor. Choose people who can speak to your work ethic and skills. You could also ask current co-workers to provide a reference.

Don’t Be Overconfident About Your Prospects

Don’t underestimate the significance of a reference. Even if you are confident you are the best candidate, a bad reference can ruin your chances of getting hired. Make sure that you have a good relationship with your potential references so that they will speak highly of you.

Don’t Hesitate To Be Honest And Upfront

Honesty is always the best policy when it comes to speaking with your current employer. If you’re not sure whether or not they would be willing to provide you with a reference, it’s best to just be upfront and honest about your intentions.

Tell them that you’re considering applying for a new job and ask if they would be comfortable providing you with a reference. If they say no, then you can move on and ask someone else.

Can You Decline Your Interviewer’s Request To Contact Your Current Employer?

It’s not uncommon for interviewers to ask for the contact information of your current employer. In some cases, they may even contact your employer without letting you know first. While this can be a bit nerve-racking, it’s important to remember that your potential employer is just trying to get more information about you.

If you’re not comfortable with your potential employer contacting your current employer, you can always decline. However, you should be honest about your reasons for doing so.

The following are a few reasons you can provide to a hiring manager as to why you’d prefer that they didn’t reach out to your current employer:

  • Your request for a reference was denied: If your current employer has already told you that they’re not comfortable providing you with a reference, then it’s best to just be upfront about it.

    There’s no need to try and hide the fact that they denied your request. The hiring manager will likely respect this and won’t contact them.

  • Your job search must be kept confidential: In some cases, you may not want your current employer to know that you’re looking for a new job. If this is the case, then it’s best to be upfront about it and let the hiring manager know that you’d prefer that they didn’t contact your current employer.

  • Other circumstances: If there are other legal circumstances that prevent you from allowing your current employer to be contacted, it’s important to let the hiring manager know. This way, they’ll be aware of the situation and won’t try to contact your current employer without your permission.

Consider Your Options First

Getting a reference from your current employer can be a great way to strengthen your resume. However, be sure to weigh the pros and cons of asking your current employer for a reference. How good is your relationship with them? How dependent are they on your work?

Remember, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get the job that you’re applying for, so you’ll want to make sure that you retain a positive relationship with your existing employer. Keep this in mind when requesting a reference.


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This blog post is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is created between the author and reader of this blog post, and its content should not be relied upon as legal advice. Readers are urged to consult legal counsel when seeking legal advice.