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Old 07.05.2010, 11:17
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Potential employer demanding a reference from current employer

Has anyone else been asked to supply the contact details of a referee in their current company before an offer was made by the new company?

For me offers have always been made subject to appropriate references and these were taken up after the agreement had been made. To do it the other way around seems very risky to me and could potentially backfire (not to mention putting the potential employer in a stronger bargaining position). Note that I don't mean a testimonial of any sort but the opportunity for the new hiring manager to call your current boss (or other referee) while you were still working for them.

I wanted to see if this is a common occurence and whether I was right to object.

Thanks.

D
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Old 07.05.2010, 11:19
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Re: Potential employer demanding a reference from current employer

I've never had that done to me, and when you potentially don't want your bosses to know you're even thinking of leaving then it seems a pretty crap thing to have to do. Normally you give your references on paper and often the only thing they do is contact HR to check you worked at those places at those dates. You're right to object in my opinion.
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Old 07.05.2010, 11:20
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Re: Potential employer demanding a reference from current employer

I've been asked for contact details for managers before but failed to give them out until after a contractual arrangement has been agreed to and signed. I've never had an employer even blink at this or even question my reasons for doing it. If they want to know, let them ask you in person and you can explain it to them.
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Old 07.05.2010, 11:28
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Re: Potential employer demanding a reference from current employer

I have never heard of this being done (even though you should always assume that the hiring company will (illegally) try to get information about you from anybody at your current place of employment.) I know that sounds bad, but I have worked in HR and rules are broken all the time. I once chastised a headhunter for calling me to ask me questions about someone I didn't know but who had worked for the company. I was not in HR at that time and felt that this was unethical and very unprofessional. What if I had not liked the candidate or had an axe to grind? I could have hurt their chances.

I digress. I have never heard of an employer openly asking the candidate for references from the current employer. Maybe someone more familiar with labor laws here can advise you.

I would share your concern with the new employer. If they can't accept the precarious position they are putting you in, I would take a pass on the offer. If this is how they are treating you in the courtship phase, I can only imagine how they will treat you when you have signed on the dotted line...
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Old 07.05.2010, 11:34
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Re: Potential employer demanding a reference from current employer

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I would share your concern with the new employer. If they can't accept the precarious position they are putting you in, I would take a pass on the offer. If this is how they are treating you in the courtship phase, I can only imagine how they will treat you when you have signed on the dotted line...
I agree, tell them if they cannot respect your confidentiality you are not interested in working for them.
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Old 07.05.2010, 11:35
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Re: Potential employer demanding a reference from current employer

As part of the application/interview process it's not uncommon for references/referees to be asked for, but they not normally taken up until after a contract is signed, which is normally then subject to confirmation of ref's/quals etc. Did they actually say they were going to contact your referees before making an offer?
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Old 07.05.2010, 11:44
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Re: Potential employer demanding a reference from current employer

If you are going through an agency, then on no account give them reference details (especially of current employer) until you've been given a firm offer, in writing. It is not unknown (i.e. it is very common), to use the reference information to call up the referee and try to place candidates with them.

Agencies will tell you it's their policy, that the clients demand it, that no-one else has question this. It simply isn't true. The more they insist, the less likely that there is a real job behind it. If they think they can make money by placing you, they won't demand references up front.

If an agency isn't involved, then it's more likely to be genuine. However, I would still not give details without a firm written job offer.
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Old 07.05.2010, 12:11
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Re: Potential employer demanding a reference from current employer

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As part of the application/interview process it's not uncommon for references/referees to be asked for, but they not normally taken up until after a contract is signed, which is normally then subject to confirmation of ref's/quals etc. Did they actually say they were going to contact your referees before making an offer?
They were absolutley insistent on contacting my current manager before giving me a decision and making an offer (verbal or formal). This was normal process according to them although I've never heard of it and it seems nobody else has either. I refused as politely as I could but tried to keep the dialogue open. Another referee provided an exemplary reference (I'm that good - honest) and they stopped hounding me but they were adamant that no decision/offer would be made before receiving references.

I believe that they had been to some "hard ball" school of HR and recruitment as I was continually put under pressure and received demands with very little notice. My reading of the situation was that they believed that if they acted as though I should be grateful and feel flattered to receive an offer I would immediately say yes and I was lucky to have it.

I have a friend who has attended sales technique seminars along the same lines and we agree that a smack in the mouth is a more likely outcome than a sale.

Thanks for the posts.
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Old 07.05.2010, 19:43
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Re: Potential employer demanding a reference from current employer

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They were absolutley insistent on contacting my current manager before giving me a decision and making an offer (verbal or formal). This was normal process according to them although I've never heard of it and it seems nobody else has either. I refused as politely as I could but tried to keep the dialogue open. Another referee provided an exemplary reference (I'm that good - honest) and they stopped hounding me but they were adamant that no decision/offer would be made before receiving references.

I believe that they had been to some "hard ball" school of HR and recruitment as I was continually put under pressure and received demands with very little notice. My reading of the situation was that they believed that if they acted as though I should be grateful and feel flattered to receive an offer I would immediately say yes and I was lucky to have it.

I have a friend who has attended sales technique seminars along the same lines and we agree that a smack in the mouth is a more likely outcome than a sale.

Thanks for the posts.
If a future employer treats you this way before they have even got you on board, I'd to think about how they'd treat you once on board!!!

Jim
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Old 07.05.2010, 19:53
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Re: Potential employer demanding a reference from current employer

I've had head hunters ask me if they can talk to an ex-boss/colleague of mine (i.e. not current ones), but never had the HR people of a potentially hiring company do this to me.

If someone asked to speak to my CURRENT boss, I would have to decline the offer, it's just too dangerous UNLESS of course your current company is letting you go and they have agreed that you are free to search for alternative employments while finishing off your last few months.
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Old 07.05.2010, 19:54
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Re: Potential employer demanding a reference from current employer

I had a company that asked for a Zeugnis before I resigned. I didn't have one since I had not resigned from the company. I told them it was not
possible, and an offer was not made.
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Old 07.05.2010, 20:24
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Re: Potential employer demanding a reference from current employer

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I had a company that asked for a Zeugnis before I resigned. I didn't have one since I had not resigned from the company. I told them it was not
possible, and an offer was not made.
You can always ask a Swiss employer for an interim reference and in fact many Swiss people do so every year - back from the Christmas holidays, first thing they do is ask for reference for the previous year!

Jim
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Old 07.05.2010, 21:30
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Re: Potential employer demanding a reference from current employer

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I had a company that asked for a Zeugnis before I resigned. I didn't have one since I had not resigned from the company. I told them it was not
possible, and an offer was not made.
If they'd have asked for that I would have been happy to supply one but this is apparently their standard working practice?! Personally I doubt it and I think they were trying it on.

In the end I was, as others have suggested, concerned that if they behave like this now - what are they going to be like when I'm signed up.

I declined....
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Old 07.05.2010, 22:13
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Re: Potential employer demanding a reference from current employer

I was asked for 2 references from my current employer. They even asked for one from my current direct boss, which was a little risky. I did ask for confirmation of where I was int he selection process and was told I was the last man standing. hence I took the risk and agreed (as did my somewhat unhappy boss). Fortunately I got a job offer so this is not a problem now. Would have been different if there was no offer as this has undoubtedly changed the relationship with my old boss.
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Old 07.05.2010, 22:22
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Re: Potential employer demanding a reference from current employer

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I was asked for 2 references from my current employer. They even asked for one from my current direct boss, which was a little risky. I did ask for confirmation of where I was int he selection process and was told I was the last man standing. hence I took the risk and agreed (as did my somewhat unhappy boss). Fortunately I got a job offer so this is not a problem now. Would have been different if there was no offer as this has undoubtedly changed the relationship with my old boss.
Congratulations on the job offer!
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Old 07.05.2010, 22:23
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Re: Potential employer demanding a reference from current employer

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You can always ask a Swiss employer for an interim reference and in fact many Swiss people do so every year - back from the Christmas holidays, first thing they do is ask for reference for the previous year!

Jim
My wife says only to get one if you get a new boss. Otherwise, they
might think you are looking.

She is German though, and they have perhaps slightly different
customs/rules.
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Old 08.05.2010, 07:39
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Re: Potential employer demanding a reference from current employer

It's clear that your current position will be compromised if the potential firm contacts your current employer.

I have heard of contacting previous employers for a reference but never the current one.

Sounds like the potential firm has some reasoning ability issues and I'd be wary.

Also you used the word "demanding" to describe the situation, that alone is enough to raise a red flag in my mind.
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Old 08.05.2010, 09:37
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Re: Potential employer demanding a reference from current employer

I have never heard of this. References yes, always, but never from current employer. I would refuse.

I agree; do you really want to work for a company that plays these games? I actually turned down an offer recently for that reason.
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Old 08.05.2010, 09:52
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Re: Potential employer demanding a reference from current employer

I was asked the same last year. Not by the guy who would potentially hire me, but the HR representative in the interview meeting.

I told them that:
- I do have references they can call
- they can call several former manager, but obviously not the current one until I got an offer, decided to agree to it and quit my current job myself
- I found it very strange to collect references in the middle of the hiring process (I was expected to come to another interview at that point). It is for me the last thing you do, somewhen after the offer...

I have been told that they would do this earlier "to speed things up" and they were willing to accept a former manager from the same company instead of the current one.

They did call. The "speed things up" argument is complete rubbish as the process took four months (!) and I got rejected in the end, not because of the references but because after half a year after publishing the opening, the department had to reduce head count... I believe that this is one of the HR tactics you can see currently: Companies are not hiring much, so you actually do not need as many HR folks as three years ago. These calls keep them busy and it looks like they are doing valuable work. The manager they called told me later on that they asked him all sort of things for nearly an hour and that he has never seen so a thorough and detailed interview. I bet the girls spent a week on documenting and analyzing the call...
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Old 08.05.2010, 10:24
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Re: Potential employer demanding a reference from current employer

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I have never heard of this. References yes, always, but never from current employer. I would refuse.

I agree; do you really want to work for a company that plays these games? I actually turned down an offer recently for that reason.
Maybe we've talked to the same firm?

I was just amazed at the attitude and in my field there are always more opportunities than good people. It was definitely the HR manager driving this and I thought the company had made a serious mistake putting someone so confrontational and pushy in control.

Anyway, like you I thought this is not the way to start something and just walked away. Shame, as it took plenty of my time and I wanted the job but there you go.
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