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Job References Dilemma

I've been offered a position contingent on having a reference from a former manager.  Not having job-hopped, I have had a total of 2 managers, my current one (company owner) and the one at my previous employer.  I can't get a hold of my previous manager and I think it's a very bad idea to ask my current manager - leaving would put him in a bind in terms of the projects I'm working on and lined up to start.  I've given them 2 co-worker references (1 from current, 1 from previous employer.)  So here's my dilemma.  Do ask my current manager for a reference (imo it's not an option because of the potential consequences (bad reference, then fire me when the opportunity arises.)  Or do I find someone a friend, etc to act as my former mgr.  I find this completely unethical and I don't want to do this.  Of course the last option is just to stay put.  *Sigh*  Any comments/suggestions/etc are welcome.

Anon4Now
Friday, September 12, 2003

How about you contact your potential new employer and explain the situation to them as you have to us.
They obviously want you and may decide that the co-worker references are enough, or will at least help you to solve the problem.

If they get awkward and make unreasonable demands, do you really want to work for them anyway?

SteveM
Friday, September 12, 2003

Can you explain your problem to the people hiring you? Let them know you don't feel comfortable getting a reference from your current manager.

How much working experience do you have? You might be able to sneak in with a "team lead" reference. Give your new employer the name of someone who was in charge of a bigger chunk of your project and call them the technical lead, architect, etc...

they don't always need a manager reference, but a reference from someone who was more then a former cubemate is pretty standard.

Also, why can't you contact your old manager?

NathanJ
Friday, September 12, 2003

I don't think it's an unreasonable demand - it's just one I can't comply with.  I didn't keep in touch with my former manager and last I heard he'd left (retired?) the company as well.  I could be wrong, but I can't imagine HR at a large company would give me his personal contact info...

I've explained this issue to the potential employer - we are at an impass.  I'll get the offer letter in the mail tomorrow, however, it is contingent on getting a manager's reference...... 

Anon4Now
Friday, September 12, 2003

How badly do you want the job?

I was nervous about asking for a reference when I left my first company, but I did. Turns out most people are flattered to give references.

As far as your old company - you have nothing to lose. Call up HR and see what you can get. Tell them you used to work for Bill Smith or whoever and ask if you can speak to him. If they say he retired then ask if you can get his home number. Even at a large company the people are still people. Other good contacts would be the secretary for your department or other coworkers under the same team.

Also, see if you can use anywho.com or some other lookup service to get the manager's number.

NathanJ
Friday, September 12, 2003

Part of the problems with getting references from managers can be company policy.

When I was laidoff, the HR person specifically said that it was company policy for managers _not_ to give references (good or bad) - in fact managers could be terminated for giving one.

The issue is legal liability - if they give you a bad reference, you sue the company; if they give you a good reference and you don't work out with the new company, they might sue your old company.

RocketJeff
Friday, September 12, 2003

I left a position that left my employer in a jam.  I was worried about leaving and about getting a reference at a later date.  My manager was very understanding because I was moving to a better situation.  Most people understand that you have to look out for yourself first.  Especially if you haven't made any long term commitments. 

I am assuming that you are generally on good terms with your manager and your manager has not done mean or spitefull things that would give you good reason to think they would try to screw you as well. 

And to add something to the liability issue, you should always ask if they will give you _good_ reference, just to cover your bases. 

D
Friday, September 12, 2003

And if you don't say anything, they might sue you in order to subpoena the evidence.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Alyosha`
Friday, September 12, 2003

D,

My situation puts me (IMO) in a tough spot.  The job offer is contingent on the reference.  I would leave my boss in a jam if I left anytime soon.  My boss is also the owner of the company, therefore - he could just say 'no' (or give me a negative reference) and I wouldn't get the job.  At a later date, when things slow down - who would my boss be looking at laying off?  I agree that most managers are understanding and so on.  The only good thing (in the short run) I could see coming of this is that I'd be offered a raise to stay on.  *sigh*

Anon4Now
Friday, September 12, 2003

I wasn't trying to say you aren't in a tight spot.  I was going to also post "I would be very nervous in your position" but I didn't for brevities sake.  I just think that it will work out fine if you ask your current manager for the reference.  Of course, I could be totally wrong. 

D
Friday, September 12, 2003

>I just think that it will work out fine if you ask your current manager for the reference.  Of course, I could be totally wrong. 

That's the problem ;-)  And the risks outweigh the potential benefits.  It would be more of a lateral move (financially anyway) than anything else.

Anon4Now
Friday, September 12, 2003

You should just lie and get some random dude you know will give you a good fake reference to pretend to be your former manager.

It is unethical, sure, but it is the best solution to your problem.

Mister Fancypants
Friday, September 12, 2003

Mr. Fancypants - I know.  But I won't do that.  In fact I just sent them an email saying that I could do just that, but it would be unethical and it's just not something I would do.  So I refused their offer.  Maybe they will change their minds, maybe not. 

In the end, I've been far more flexible than they have (7 hour drive after work, took a day off, full-day interview with 5 people, 3 phone interviews (total: 2 hours), and I don't think I need to stoop that low.  They should know by now if I belong there or not.

Anon4Now
Friday, September 12, 2003

Punch me - Everyone who's time I wasted on this thread ;-)

Turns out, I misunderstood her on the phone this morning - they CAN get by without a mgr reference. w00t!  So the question is, when I turn in my notice, I will probably get a counter-offer.  Advice?

Anon4Now
Friday, September 12, 2003

Why not call up HR at the previous job, and ask them to forward your retired manager a letter or e-mail from you? They don't have to give you his contact info, but he can still get back to you.

I did this once. HR didn't have his new info, but a colleague of ours was still in contact with him, and forwarded it.

Good luck

Spam
Friday, September 12, 2003

"I will probably get a counter-offer.  Advice?"

Don't take it, unless you plan to keep looking for a better offer.

If you accept a counter-offer you are either the first expendable person once a slow-down comes or you're expendable once other employees gather any unique/valuable knowledge you have. Either way, you'll be out the door without another job waiting.

RocketJeff
Friday, September 12, 2003

I guess I should read the whole thread before replying. Glad it worked out for you.

Even if they double your salary, would you want to continue working for them? I'd find it a tough decision in that special case, but any kind of 10-20% raise would have to be declined I think. 

Hard to stay motivated when you know that the only reason you're still working there is the $1.75 an hour increase they gave you. Not to mention the resentment they'll possibly feel if they think they got arm-twisted into giving you a raise.

Spam
Friday, September 12, 2003

The counter offer would be nice in some respects.  If they match the salary, it would be a 25% raise.  Whereas that amount in the city I'd be living in, is roughly equivalent to what I make now.  The new company itself is an actual software company, not just a consulting shop - which is one of the reasons I want to go work there.  It's also closer to my girlfriend and it's a cooler town.

Anon4Now
Friday, September 12, 2003

Ask for a raise without mentioning that you have another offer.  (Be prepared to back up your request with justifications.)  If you decide to stay, no need to mention the other offer.  If you decide not to stay, turn in your resignation.

-Thomas

Thomas
Friday, September 12, 2003

Anon4Now, just move to the new job. Don't stuff around with counter offers. They don't work.

Also, you did the right thing when you thought the new employer required a reference from your current manager, in declining the job. I would have pointed out that it's a very odd requirement, and enough grounds, if genuine, to decline. However I see you misinterpreted them.

Good luck.


Friday, September 12, 2003

Many companies will never counteroffer. They assume that if you've gone to the trouble of securing an actual job offer, you're unhappy enough with them that they'll lose you soon anyway. Just my experience...

Rob VH
Saturday, September 13, 2003

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