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Dealing with Bosses and Coworkers/Can the recruiter contact my current boss?


Dear Sir,

Iím applying for a new job at a new company. In the job ad, they asked me to give the names of three referees, including my current boss.

It is intriguing that they also said ĎWe will not contact the referee unless you give us your permission.Ē

I donít have any problem with the other two referees, who are my former employers. However, I donít think my current boss will be happy to talk to a potential recruiter.

Can I express my worry to the recruiter? Or will they think I must be a bad employee because I donít want them to contact my boss?
Thank you.

Hi Danny,

I understand your situation completely. And you'd think that recruiters would, too. I mean, why do most people leave their current jobs? Because they are unhappy with the one they're in. It's a kinda "duh" conclusion.

Employers, however, do want to know about your current performance, though I'm sure that if you put the problem to them, they'd probably understand.

So if it was me, I'd call the recruiter. I wouldn't go into bags of detail about why you don't want your current employer to be contacted. You could just say what I have: that you're looking for something else and you know that your current boss would be displeased if he found out that you were.

Anyone who is sensible about these things will understand. You will, however, need to stress this. If you talk to some low-grade administrator at the recruiting firm, you may find that he/she will tell you anything.

You may want to talk to one of the senior people just to make sure. Explain your concerns. I'm sure that they'll understand.

But, if for any reason you feel that you're being told "no problem" just to placate you, then do an about face, and walk the other way. You don't want to do anything to jeopardise your current position. And if you can't trust a recruiter at this stage, you won't be able to later when the stakes are even higher.

Cheers, Bruce

Dealing with Bosses and Coworkers

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Dr Bruce Hoag, CPsychol AFBPsS


How to retain top talent.
How to make your employees more productive
How to manage people across different cultures
How to make yourself more valuable to your current employer
How to manage your boss
How to become more employable


Co-wrote (with Professor Cary L Cooper, CBE) Managing Value-Based Organizations: It's Not What You Think, published in 2006.

Academy of Management, British Psychological Society

Leadership & Organization Development Journal,

PhD, Organizational Psychology, Manchester Business School

Awards and Honors
Chartered Occupational Psychologist & Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society; Ezines Expert Author

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