my boss will be angry that I didn’t tell him a coworker was job-searching

A reader writes:

I am in a bit of a dilemma over what to do. A colleague of mine, “Deb,” who I like and respect (and who is getting treated pretty poorly) is looking for another job and has asked me to be a reference. I agreed and I feel good about it – she is not getting anything good at her job now and is smart and should find a better job. I am not her manager, but I am senior to her in our organization.

Last year however, someone else from our job, “Jane,” left and that person’s manager was a reference for her (so the manager knew she was job-hunting). When Jane got the new job, our boss went crazy – how could the manager not tell the boss that Jane was job hunting and had gotten to the point of checking references, and he felt betrayed and could not trust said manager, and things really soured for a long while between them.

I don’t feel it is my place to tell my boss that Deb is job hunting. Actually, I think if you look at how hard she works, how frustrated she is overall, and how few rewards she gets, it should be pretty obvious that she would be job hunting (but I don’t think my boss is really good at noticing people’s frustrations). Now she actually is a finalist for a job that has some real possibilities, and I will be talking to the hiring manager later this week. I understand that knowing someone is thinking about or about to leave is helpful for planning purposes but at the same time, but I feel like it’s still not a done deal and I have no way of knowing what might happen, so my gut feeling is that I should just stay quiet and let Deb deal with her whole job transition if she gets and takes this other job.

What is my responsibility here? Do I owe my boss a head’s up? If so, when? Do you have good language if I don’t tell him and he accuses me of hiding things from him? This particular job is within the same system, so even though we are totally independent organizations (within that system), my assumption is that my boss will find out I was a reference (people talk, hint, gossip).

No, I don’t think you’re obligated to out Deb’s job search. Moreover, I think you have an obligation to Deb to be discreet about it — or if you for some reason feel you can’t ethically do that, to give her a heads-up about it before agreeing to be a reference.

Your boss has a point that senior leaders, as part of the leadership team of the organization, have some conflicting obligations in a situation — their obligation to the person who confided in them, plus their obligation to loop the organization in about serious personnel issues, including possible upcoming vacancies. And there are cases where a manager would have real conflict between these competing obligations. For instance, if a major project was being planned that depended on Deb being there for it, and you knew that she was actively seeking to leave, someone could argue that you’d have an obligation to speak up. But even then, you wouldn’t just spill the information — you’d go back to Deb and explain that you were in a difficult situation and figure out how to approach it from there. (And you’d also presumably remember that Deb could be planning on leaving without you ever knowing about it, and that’s part of the risk employers take when they depending heavily on one person — and that in those cases, they’re well-served by thinking strategically about how to retain that person. Which it sounds like your employer is not in the habit of doing.)

In any case, when their obligations to an employee and their obligations to the organization are in conflict, leaders need to make judgment calls about how to cause the least harm. The idea is to hire managers who can navigate that line with good sense.

Your boss was out of line for his reaction to your colleague. “Going crazy” because he wasn’t informed about someone’s confidential and sensitive conversation about a job hunt isn’t reasonable.

You’re entitled to keep your conversation with Deb private. If your boss confronts you over it later, I’d suggest saying something like, “She talked to me in confidence and it wasn’t my information to share. Plus, employees moving on is a normal part of business that we can’t put a stop to. But I do think that if you’re bothered by it, we could look at ways to retain people before they start job searching.”

{ 82 comments… read them below }

  1. AMG*

    I generally don’t advocate dishonesty, but couldn’t OP bluff and say s/he didn’t know anything? The boss is out of line by asking so it seems okayish to brush off the confrontation.

    1. sunny-dee*

      I think the concern is that the boss would be able to find out or suspect that the OP was involved.

      Either way, I’d kinda be willing to let it be known — the real problem here is that a valuable employee was being treated badly in a way that is visible to others and her frustrations are being ignored. I would want to be able to have that conversation with the boss about retaining and rewarding good employees, and covering up the circumstances around “Deb’s” departure could undermine that.

      1. sunny-dee*

        Of course, I am a combative person by nature. :) I can also see trying not to rock the boat and avoid ticking off a slightly irrational boss.

        1. AMG*

          I hear you. I always say I am going to just let something go and…nope. It’s not the path I would take but I wouldn’t fault someone for telling a white lie about this. But good point.

      2. AdAgencyChick*

        This is why I think OP should discuss with Deb and let her know: I know it’s important to you to keep confidentiality, and I won’t betray that trust. Please return the favor by keeping it quiet that you used me as a reference, because we know from past experience that Boss expects something outside of professional norms.

        1. Cruciatus*

          That was my first thought too–but what if the other side brings it up? It sounds like it’s possible some of these different company employees may see one another every so often and maybe someone at the other company could say something like “Jane, thank you for your reference about Sheila. She’s been great and your reference really put her over the top of the other candidates” in front of Scary Manager. Or just mention Jane’s reference in general to someone else…and then someone else…and so on. I don’t know why people would care that much, but I suppose it could happen.

        2. Kyrielle*

          But Deb is applying elsewhere in the same organization, which means the hiring manager may talk, and the info may make it back to Boss anyway.

          1. AdAgencyChick*

            Oh shoot, I missed the part where it was the same company. In that case, I would, when called for a reference, mention that the boss has not taken it well in the past when employees leave, and could this person please be discreet about having asked?

            Not that it would be easy to avoid the boss finding out. If it’s the same organization, the boss will probably figure out who got asked. But…also, if it’s the same organization, aren’t they also going to talk to the boss himself? In that case, hopefully OP won’t get the brunt of any backlash.

            1. KimmieSue*

              I missed the part about same company also? If that is true – seems like the potential new manager would already be speaking to the potentially “losing” manager. Most companies that I’ve worked at have more transparent internal interview processes. Most employees have been required to gain their current manager’s approval before applying.

              Certainly not all companies share that practice, but many do.

          2. Technical Editor*

            I don’t see that mentioned anywhere in the letter. The OP just says “looking for another job.”

    2. fposte*

      I think the boss is out of line by going crazy over a departure, but I think it’s perfectly okay for a boss to ask a staffer if they think an employee might be considering leaving. (Not that it looks like the boss actually has yet.)

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        I’ve been in this situation, and I usually answer by pointing out reasons why the coworker might be justified in wanting to leave, rather than letting on any information I know that isn’t public knowledge. The last time this happened, I kept bugging my manager, “We need to pay Wakeen more — you and I both know everyone at his job title is getting ten headhunter phone calls a day, and it’s only a matter of time before he figures out how underpaid he is and jumps ship!” I did not tell my manager that Wakeen was, in fact, already interviewing and that I had agreed to serve as a reference.

        Wakeen ended up leaving for almost a 50% raise. Told you so, TPTB.

        1. BRR*

          This was going to be my strategy as well. I don’t know if Jane is job hunting but given a,b, and c it wouldn’t surprise me if she started to look.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Am chuckling. Here is a prime example of someone telling the boss and what happens next? Nothing.

        3. AW*

          This is a seriously legit strategy. I’m not a manager or supervisor but if/when I become one, I’m totally using this.

        4. esra*

          I’ve done this exact same thing… With the exact same results.

          Admittedly our manager at the time was super needy and just wanted affirmation. Sorry dude.

        5. Purple Jello*

          Yes, this is what I came to say. Deb is expecting you to not spill the beans, but it could benefit everyone if you pointed out the reasons she “might someday be looking”. At least this way the company has a chance to get their eyes opened.

          I ended up going to my boss for a raise & promotion, who sent me to HR, who sent me back to my boss. Everyone was amazed and dumbfounded when I left for a better position. “What could we do to get you to stay?” – How about not blow me off when I ask what I need to do to get a promotion and raise?

    3. Tinker*

      I don’t think the boss is asking though, in this case — the question is if the OP should volunteer the information. Far as that being asked goes, though, it seems to me like it wouldn’t be inappropriate to speak of what can be seen, i.e. that the overall situation she is in (not a lot of recognition, skills and work that would be highly marketable to get that recognition elsewhere) is one that can easily be expected to lead to turnover.

  2. neverjaunty*

    Sounds like you have a really bad boss – not only failing to draw the line between poor treatment by the company and a desire to find a new job, but taking everything as a personal slight (“betrayed”, really)?

    1. The Toxic Avenger*

      Yes, this. Bosses who always look for the fainting couch and constantly perceive personal slights with normal business operations freak me out. I’ll bet this guy flips out about all kinds of stuff.

    2. Michele*

      Agreed. When someone’s default reaction to things in anger, they shouldn’t be surprised when people don’t communicate with them.

  3. Natalie*

    Betrayed, really? Gee, I wonder why people don’t feel comfortable letting this boss know they are moving on?

    1. fposte*

      Right. You punish people for telling you the truth, you’re not going to get the truth any more.

        1. Anna*

          It would only be untruthful if she was asked directly and lied about it. Lie of omission doesn’t even enter the picture because the subject probably won’t come up. And frankly since the OP knows how the boss reacts when stuff like this comes up, fposte’s comment still stands.

            1. MK*

              Deceitful? Do you tell your boss everything? I think omission is only deceitful if there is an obligation to tell; in this case, I don’t see any such obligation.

              1. Joey*

                If I respect the leadership of my manager then yes, this is something she would want to know since there’s potential coverage and engagement issues. so that obligates me to raise those issues.

            2. K*

              Your manager certainly doesn’t tell you everything so you don’t have to tell them if you’re job hunting.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                The difference is when you’re a manager yourself, which changes the obligations that you have to the management of your organization. That’s what Joey is pointing out — that as part of the management team, it’s a different calculus than when you’re not.

                1. Another Steve G*

                  I understand, but OP and the employee who’s job searching need to look out for #1. This boss and the company aren’t going to.

  4. E2*

    I think OP should ask Deb to keep his/her involvement quiet if she does get the job, in the same way that OP is now keeping Deb’s search quiet. No one should lie if asked directly, but sometimes once people who’ve been quietly searching finally announce, it’s as though they lose their filter entirely and all the details of the job hunt come pouring out.

    1. OhNo*

      It doesn’t sound like the OP is worried about Deb spilling the beans, but about other people in their industry/system, like whoever ends up contacting them for the reference. Sadly, I don’t think there’s a good way to keep that outside gossip from getting around to the boss.

      1. E2*

        Agreed, directly from Deb is not the only way this would come out. But Deb should at least know OP’s preference is that her involvement is kept quiet in case a) it hadn’t occurred to Deb, or b) there’s an opportunity for Deb to convey that to reference checkers after she receives an offer.

  5. MaryMary*

    I think it would be fair to ask your boss – either when Deb leaves or if you can bring up the topic another way – why he’d want to know and what he would do. If he wants to know to start contingency planning, that’s not a bad thing. Maybe you could steer it towards a larger succession planning conversation for your group, which would be great to do in general. Or if your boss wanted to know so he could try to convince the person not to leave, that could be awkward but it’s not necessarily bad. If that’s his concern, again, it could transition towards a larger overall job satisfaction conversation. Not “Deb wants to quit” but more “we ask a lot from our teapot designers. I think they’re getting burned out and I’m afraid we’re looking at some turnover if we don’t hire additional resources.”

    1. AW*

      Not “Deb wants to quit” but more “we ask a lot from our teapot designers. I think they’re getting burned out and I’m afraid we’re looking at some turnover if we don’t hire additional resources.”

      I like this suggestion too. If Deb isn’t the only person in her position (a team of admins vs one secretary) then addressing treatment of the whole group should be a safe way to address the problems with how Deb is being treated.

  6. Jady*

    Why on earth does the big boss need to know who this person’s references are? No one is obligated to disclose that information. It sounds like the entire situation could be prevented by just not allowing that information to be passed around.

    1. Hotstreak*

      In this case it’s not up to the letter writer to determine that. The risk is that the hiring manager will see the current boss at some point and mention the reference in casual conversation.

      “Hey, I know Jen went to your organization, I hope things are working out! We sure do miss her around here.”
      “Oh, she’s great, just like Bill said she would be!”

      Or something less blunt, but along those lines :).

      1. OP*

        Yes, that is exactly my fear, people within the system see each other often enough and might think nothing of mentioning something like that.

  7. AllieJ0516*

    My favorite line in Alison’s answer “we could look at ways to retain people before they starting job searching.” I’m sure it’s too late for Deb, but if more bosses would work on this, I think they’d be SHOCKED at the difference in morale in the office.

    1. Jennifer*

      Yeah, no kidding. But at least in some places (like where I am), making allowances isn’t an option. I have found out in the last two weeks that literally nothing that’s been suggested by me or my boss is doable, so…. well, I guess that’s their priority is to keep things as they are and easy come, easy go.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I lovin’ this part, too.
      OP, I think I would talk to Deb and make sure she has your back. This means that anyone she gives your name to MUST be careful about what they say, and where they say it.

      And Alison has your Plan B here if you get discovered. You know, sometimes it just takes one strong voice to break old habits. If you clearly state that by doing X then Y will happen, you can have in impact on a long held, ingrained habit. I have seen this happen, and there have been a few times where I have been that voice, much to the relief of a few people around me Yes, it did cause some sputtering. It was worth it in the long run because it dealt with a recurring problem.

  8. OP*

    Thank you so much for answering my question my Alison! It clarifies my own thinking and I love your line about looking at ways to retain people before they start job searching – as AllieJ0516 said that would do wonders for morale (which is not very high as you might guess).

  9. You reek of absinthe ...*

    1. I am not a narc.

    2. I would lie to the boss about knowing anything. I know everyone thinks lying is a Bad Bad Thing, but there are times when someone (like this boss) attempts to go way past my boundaries into the Magical Land of None Of Your F88king Business. When that happens, I don’t have any issue at all with lying to them. I don’t even care if they know I’m lying – in fact, it’s not a bad thing if they know, because I feel it is a valuable life-lesson for them. Ideally I’ll sip from a can of Diet Coke while having this conversation.

    3. Would I ‘fess up if I was in danger of being fired? I sincerely hope I would not.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think that’s a reasonable stance in general, but that it gets more complicated when you’re part of the management team. It’s not quite as black and white when you’re partly responsible for things like retention, overall staffing strategy, etc. I still don’t think the OP should spill the beans, but it becomes a more nuanced question.

      1. Alma*

        The whole management team has to be responsible for “retention, overall staffing strategy, etc.” If explosive boss (several images go through my mind…) fails to properly attend to retention, overall staffing strategy, etc – which entails advancement, continuing education, updating accountabilities, and appreciation of the staff, both monetarily and non-monetarily – then people will leave, or wear out.

    2. Joey*

      As a manager you’re supposed to have the bosses and the company’s back, not have it out for them.

      1. Joey*

        Before someone jumps on me having their back means telling them the truth, identifying root cause issues, and proposing solutions. I’m not talking about condoning bad behavior.

    3. I'm a Little Teapot*

      +1 million to #2. I feel very strongly that it’s 100% fine to lie in response to boundary-crossing, intrusive, rude questions, or to protect your safety or someone else’s, and not just in a work context. In fact, there are a lot of situations where it would be morally wrong to tell the truth.

      A good example of the former – chemo patient wearing wig is asked “Is that your real hair?” If chemo patient isn’t comfortable answering “no” or “mind your own business” (which is implicitly a no) it is absolutely OK for chemo patient to lie and answer “yes,” because Rude Questioner has no right to know such information and is horribly rude and insensitive to ask.

      A good example of the latter – Homophobic Boss asks you “Is Bob gay?” You know that, yes, Bob is in fact gay. But to tell Homophobic Boss the truth – or to give him an answer like “That’s none of your business” which implies that “yes” is likely – would harm Bob (get him fired or treated like crap at work). So the morally correct answer would be “No” or “I have no idea, I barely know him,” because, again, the boss has no reason or right to know such information.

    4. Coco*

      Totally agree that outright lying can be legitimate, ethical, and reasonable. But it can be dangerous because people don’t like it–they feel “betrayed” as the OP’s boss said. Since it may not be necessary to lie in this case, it might be better to avoid it since it seems like the boss could likely find out the OP lied, and based on what the OP described of him, he’d probably react poorly.

    5. MK*

      If they know you are lying, you are not teaching them any valuable lesson, you are just coming across as unreliable and dishonest. I really don’t understand why you wouldn’t just refuse to answer at that point.

      1. Of Course I Still Love You*

        The hope is that they will learn not to ask intrusive and obnoxious questions. I’m not certain that refusing to answer carries the ‘message’ as well as a lie. Especially if the lie straddles the line between believable and unbelievable. But this also a matter of personal style: I don’t mind being confrontational.

  10. Sherm*

    I feel for you, OP. This is a “rock and a hard place” situation. There are dangers also in telling the boss. You could be labeled the boss’s spy, Deb could get fired and never forgive you, you could find yourself out of the loop more frequently because people don’t trust you with a secret.

    If the boss does indeed say “You gave Deb a reference?!!!” you could say “I was asked for my opinion, and I wasn’t going to lie,” and hopefully the boss would get the assumption that you hadn’t volunteered to be a reference.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      “I was asked for my opinion and I wasn’t going to lie” is technically not a lie, either, because if the hiring manager asked the OP for a reference, then clearly she was asked! :)

  11. INTP*

    I don’t think that the OP is obligated to disclose Deb’s job search but if Deb is aware of the past drama, I don’t think they are obligated to keep it confidential either. In that case, Deb should be aware of the position she is putting people in by asking them to be a reference. The OP should, however, give Deb a heads up if they feel it’s necessary to disclose.

  12. Jennifer*

    I don’t think it’s fair to say that someone is job hunting. Job hunts take years now. The employee may end up never leaving in the end or not leaving for years. Until they get an offer, there really isn’t anything to worry about for sure, right?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      If I have been asked directly, I have shrugged as if I did not know and said, “Well, I think most people look from time to time. Maybe they are not looking serious, maybe they just want to know what is out there, but they still look.”
      I think that is a reality based answer. If a boss does not think people look at job ads, then that is a misconception on her part.

    2. EvilQueenRegina*

      You know what this post reminded me of? That post recently where “Lucinda” at Company A told “Bob” the manager at Company B that his employee “Adam” applied to Company A, and even though Adam never got an interview, he then got shunted into something minor to minimise the disruption to B if he got another job. That could have ended up going on for ages too. Definitely shouldn’t tell the boss at this stage when there’s no offer on the table. In fact I don’t think they should anyway.

    3. rPM*

      I agree. I can’t imagine the boss expects Deb herself to give him a heads up that she’s job hunting until she actually accepts another offer, so I’m not totally sure why he’d expect her references to act differently (although the case of the past employee’s direct manager knowing about a departure in advance was a little more complicated). If the boss somehow does find out the OP was a reference and questions her, it seems fair to say something like, “I felt that it was Deb’s decision about when to notify the company.”

  13. maggie*

    Is this a large organization? What is the relationship and likelihood of the hiring manager spilling the beans to Boss?

    If it were me, I would say that because Deb was staying within the organization that it didn’t have the same type of negative impact as Jane, and therefore supporting Deb’s professional growth while retaining her talents at our organization was actually a very positive thing. If Boss argues, then he really just wants to shoot himself in the foot and you can’t help Stupid. And also highlights that yes, it is time to review Deb’s position and department (ahem and company) for more effective staffing practices.

  14. HR Manager*

    These situations are kind of “damned if you do, and damned if you don’t” — I would as, Alison suggests, let things progress and only confront this issue when it comes up as a point of discussion (i.e., said boss asks why the OP didn’t say anything). I do think deflecting the conversation from the irrational adverse reaction to something more constructive like – can we talk about maybe why someone like Deb may have wanted to leave and see if there is anything we can do differently to change this?

    The only other thing I can suggest is to start proactively dropping retention as a point of discussion. Hey, Boss, I know you took it pretty hard last time when Jane left. I’m hearing buzz of dissatisfaction in some of the team members, and I’m wondering if we can discuss what those concerns may be and how to address them before we lose any more talent. You would want to anonymize the feedback in this case, but maybe it can help pre-empt an irrational response from your Boss should Deb get a job shortly thereafter.

      1. Anna*

        You’re missing the part where the boss in this letter has proven not to be trustworthy in their reaction to news an employee is moving on. Not to mention, making the feedback anonymous means there’s no blowback for anyone. Like Deb.

      2. HR Manager*

        This is the exact reaction I would assume a non-trustworthy boss would take. If they cannot appreciate why some feedback would like to be anonymous, then quite frankly, they can’t be that great of a boss.

        People are less inclined to give honest feedback unless it’s anonymous. Has very little to do with trust in the actual relationship, but certainly induces enough anxiety in most employees. Anonymizing feedback has been pretty standard for most upward feedback programs we’ve run in the company. Most of the managers understood why — it was only the jerky bosses who would try to read into the feedback and find out who said what, rather than taking the feedback and finding a learning/development opportunity.

  15. Snarkus Aurelius*

    OP, I have been through this identical scenario. I was the Deb, and my coworker Rebecca was you. It didn’t end well but not because of anyone or anything. It was largely because of my boss who couldn’t be reasoned with and who resorted to anger a lot.

    I didn’t feel comfortable telling the boss anything because shed be disagreeable by default. Even topics like the weather resulted in her snapping at me.

    When I gave my two weeks, she cornered Rebecca and complained. Rebecca admitted knowing. Boss got upset and said, “I guess she couldn’t tell me. I’ll never get over this.” Rebecca rsponsrd by saying that I didn’t because circunstances didn’t allow for me to admit I was leaving.

    Didn’t matter. There’s some things you can’t make right no matter what.

    1. Revanche*

      “I’ll never get over this.” WRT a normal action an employee may reasonably take: usually a sign something’s out of whack. That’s precisely the reaction one of my previous loon bosses would have when people quit with a side of retaliation. Of course no one felt safe giving that boss any more advance notice than strictly necessary.

  16. soitgoes*

    This is a rough one…the underlying question here is whether OP should be kind to Deb and hold out hope that her reference will be kept a secret, or whether OP should do a good thing for her own position with her current company by going to the boss. If the OP doesn’t mind working in that environment (and many people wouldn’t depending on the substance of the work and whether they themselves are able to brush off other people’s lousy personalities), she could advance her career by staying in line with what she knows her boss wants.

    That’s an interesting dilemma: in a situation where everything’s legal and no one’s being hurt, is it better to pursue your own interests, if both options involve a bit of light fibbing?

    What if the OP told Deb that she’d love to be a reference but it would be detrimental to her (OP) current position? With all of this talk about protecting Deb, I think Deb would understand if the OP said she can’t involve herself.

  17. Elder Dog*

    In nearly the same situation, I asked our job seeking co-worker to let me know if she got the job at least a day ahead of turning in her resignation, so I could tell my boss before she did.

    It wasn’t fun for her – he blew up and made a fool out of himself, as expected, but he vented his jerkiness on someone who was leaving, and the rest of us, who all knew it was happening, blew through without much lash-back.

  18. Joey*

    Id have a different conversation. One that tells the boss Jane is leaving, and this might be a sign that we are out of touch with our employees seeing it’s the 2nd person who didn’t give a heads up. Id also tell the boss that it’s best we not raise the issue with Jane since she confided in me and let her part ways on her terms, but we need to come up with a plan.

    That is, unless the relationship with Jane is valued more than the relationship with the boss.

    1. esra*

      If the employee is just interviewing though and the boss is legit crazy, the person could end up out of work.

      1. Joey*

        Well to me that’s the judgement call. If a manager is going to go off the rails and possibly fire someone they just lost me as an ally.

        Only if I can trust that the manager will do the right thing will I have his back. Even if his initial reaction isn’t ideal.

        And to me a manager going crazy can mean anything. it could easily mean relative to their normal behavior all the way up to beyond anything resembling normal.

    2. Kelly L.*

      You’d tell the boss Jane (I think you mean Deb, as Jane’s been gone a year) is leaving when it’s not even a done deal yet that she’s leaving? Or do I misunderstand you? The way I read this, it seems like an immense betrayal of Jane/Deb’s confidence–not only leaking the info, but adding inaccurate info on top of it.

      1. Joey*

        No Id tell the boss Jane appears to be in the final stages and might be turning in her 2 weeks soon so we need to start planning.

        Of course I wouldn’t tell the boss if i didn’t think she’d handle it like a good manager.

        And is it a betrayal? sure you can call it that. But as long as jane leaves without incident the harm is minimal if she even finds out and if she does she will eventually understand that although i will help her in anyway I can if I’m put in a tough spot my loyalty will be to the hand that feeds me.

        1. VintageLydia USA*

          “Of course I wouldn’t tell the boss if i didn’t think she’d handle it like a good manager.”

          He already proved that when Jane left.

  19. Jwal*

    If someone’s reference was a randomer (like a former boss or just someone from outside the organisation) then they wouldn’t be talking about what they’d said to former managers, surely? There just wouldn’t be any need to. I can’t see why a person would decide that an internal reference (can’t think of the phrasing there!) should be any different.

    In our organisation we’re supposed to tell our managers if we are applying for an internal move, and there’s a bit on the application forms when you’re signing to say that all is correct etc that states that the applicant has told their manager. I’m sure some people must lie, but it seems that if the organisation (or group as there are three interlinked organisations) isn’t technically losing the candidate then that’s regarded as preferable to them going elsewhere, and “fair play to them for going for something better”.

    Maybe I’ve just had good luck with it.

    My guess is that ultimately though nothing will get said, and it will be a worry over nothing!

  20. Olivia Pope*

    I had something interesting happen to me. I had an interview and while I supplied 3 references ( I gave people who had supervised me at my current job but since moved on), they (hopeful future employer) said that while I am a finalist, they prefer to speak to a current supervisor if it wouldn’t affect my position. This shocked me!! Does anyone know if this is standard? I told them while I am excited to be a finalist and have a great relationship with my boss it would adversely affect me. I also gave them a current coworker they could talk to who knows I am job-searching. I had considered asking someone I trusted who is in a leadership position but didn’t want to put her in that position of having the knowledge that I am looking. The position am going for is in academia in an administrative capacity.

    Has anyone else had this happen or any experience with this?

Comments are closed.