When you’re looking for a new job under the radar, it can be tricky keeping it from your current boss – especially when potential employers ask if they can contact your current employer during the hiring process. So, what should you do? Today, career experts J.T. O’Donnell and Dale Dauten share some advice on the following situation…
Dear J.T. and Dale,
Should I let potential employers contact my current employer? One common question I’ve been asked during interviews, is whether the potential employer can contact my current employer. If I give permission, my current employer could find out I’m looking for a new job. However, if I don’t give permission, it’s like I have something to hide.
Thankfully, you’re not the only one who’s looking for a job while employed. In fact, it’s very common. But you DO have something to hide – you’re looking for a job right under your current employer’s nose. According to Dauten, it’s completely okay to say “no” if potential employers want to contact your current employer. However, O’Donnell also recommends that can put it off until an offer has been solidified. In this case, you could say something like this:
“I would be happy to have you contact my current employer after a written offer has been made to me. If we decide that I’m the fit for the job and I accept the job, I want to be the one to go in and tell them that I’m leaving so I can maintain the relationship I worked so hard to build with that company. They don’t know I’m looking for a job right now, and I feel if you contact them right now, it could throw them off-guard. I’d like to be the one to tell them. But absolutely, once we’ve decided I’m the candidate, you can contact them.”
Putting this out there will legitimize your reasoning for not letting them contact your current employer, and is a tactful way to decline for the time-being.
“I think that’s the right and fair way to do it so you can maintain both relationships,” said O’Donnell. “And that way you don’t have to say ‘no’ to the potential employer.”
So, don’t worry about letting potential employers contact your current employer. As long as you know what to say, you can manage it. Also, most companies are understanding when it comes to candidates looking for work in secret, so it’s not a huge deal!
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