.: I like the idea of emphasizing your current great relationship, but I’d use it to say “yes” rather than “no.” Here’s the right response: “Yes. You can contact my employer. However, I would ask that you do not do so until you have extended me an offer and I have accepted it pending a good recommendation. I worked hard to develop my relationship with my current company. The only reason I’m looking for a new job is they do not have the growth opportunity I desire. Therefore, I am completely OK with you talking to them should I make the cut and accept an offer with you, just not until then.”
Oh, I know it’s not an option and I do know that I need them. I do have one professional reference and family friends who are willing to serve as personal references, but most of the jobs I had were really bad fits so I genuinely didn’t do very well in them (and having undiagnosed depression didn’t help, either). I took those jobs out of desperation, and while I’m trying to be choosier now, it’s incredibly frustrating to be trying to dig myself out of this hole when it feels like I can’t get any references without, well, having references. I haven’t volunteered because I’ve been trying to leave my schedule open in case I got an actual job, and I genuinely can’t think of anyone else I could use at this point. And even if I did find another reference, most places want three and I’d only have two.
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