Asking a current employer for a reference can be tricky

Don't hand in your notice until your new contract is signed.
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Don't hand in your notice until your new contract is signed.

A good performance reference could make or break a job offer, a recruiter says. But who should it come from?

Hiring manager at Madison Recruitment Kristian Morgan said while it was important to get a rounded view of the candidate with character references, there was no substitute for a reference from a boss.

A recent study in the United States found that managers were more likely to comment on a candidate's reliability, ability to work independently and relevant work experience, while co-workers described the candidate's personality.

But what if the candidate was at loggerheads with their current boss? 

Transparency was the best policy, Morgan said.

"When we discover that a candidate didn't get along with their boss at a later stage it always results in a much worse scenario for them," Morgan said.

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Although it was important to be honest, the candidate should explain the situation with a forward-thinking approach, he said.

"It's a good idea to [say] what went wrong, what you've learnt from it and what you can bring to the new job."

He said an alternative was to ask a previous referee or a manager who had left the company.

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But director of Human Resources Group Brett Looker said generally managers understood it was a delicate situation and would give a fair reference if asked. 

"It comes down to the culture of the office. If the office is open about hearing your career aspirations, decide they're with you when you want to progress in your career then it shouldn't be a problem," Looker said. 

He said most employers had a positive outlook on career progression and understood that employees no longer stayed in one company for their entire career. 

"Every organisation should have a churn of fresh talent. It's good for diversity and innovation of the company. Change is always good," Looker said.

Morgan advised candidates to be professional and avoid burning bridges.

He said they should only resign once the new employment contract had been signed. 

"There is no such thing as a verbal offer. It's not an offer until it's in black and white and on paper. Only then should you be considering offering up a referee."

 

 - Stuff

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