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May we contact your employer?

  1. Oct 24, 2010 #1
    I see this all the time in job applications, including for the current employer section. Does it hurt your chances when you tell them not to contact them? I can understand that for former employees it'll signify that "I got fired" or "I torched bridges".

    I don't want my current employer to know I am trying to find another job because I am unsure of their response. I usually have the feeling it will most likely be "clean your desk out by 5pm, see ya" if they did find out. I just don't want to endanger my current position until I can find another.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 24, 2010 #2


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    I really can't speak to how it will affect your chances at getting hired.

    But it's a common question, and it's not at all unusual to answer "No." Most hiring managers will understand the sensitivity of your situation.

    Even better would be, "No, please don't. But I have many other references on my list, including (former employers, scout troop leader, teachers, etc.)."
  4. Oct 24, 2010 #3
    The usual reason for saying "no" is that you already have a job and are looking on the side. Everyone understands this, so saying "no" shouldn't be a problem.
  5. Oct 24, 2010 #4


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    Well just to throw this in there... if your new job involves some sort of background investigation it can have quite a severe effect on getting a security clearance or equivalent, especially if you've been working there for a while.
  6. Oct 25, 2010 #5
    A background investigation is different than being asked on an application "Is it ok to contact your previous employers?" If a job *requires* a background check and the candidate refuses to supply information or volunteer contact it will disqualify the candidate, flat out.

    To the OP, if the job does have a background check they *will* call your current employer. For my current job, which had an extensive background investigation, they called all my previous employers (including my current) from the last 7 years. I know they did because one of my bosses from 6 years ago whom I'm still in contact with, called me back and said they did.
  7. Oct 25, 2010 #6


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    No, that is not always the case.

    For example if one is in the process of transferring to a new job that requires a security clearance, an investigator coming to interview ones employers is a fairly obvious sign that the employee is looking for a new job. That's why every government agency I've worked for that requires a clearance without polygraph has asked if it's acceptable to contact the current employer, with the understanding that putting "No" could adversely affect the granting of the clearance if this would leave large gaps in the investigation.

    A job may require a background investigation or security clearance, but obtaining a suitable profile of a potential employee may or may not be contingent on interviewing the current employer.
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2010
  8. Oct 25, 2010 #7
    Um, I'm under the impression you originally responded to TMFKAN64's post because you didn't quote anyone. In the post you said it can have "quite a severe effect on getting a security clearance or equivalent", which I guess if you meant "won't meet requirements and appointment will be terminated" then yeah I agree. I think we're kinda arguing the same thing here. Anyway, I found a great link from the OPM that the OP can read if he/she has any further questions. Good luck.

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2017
  9. Oct 25, 2010 #8
    Look at it from another point of view. If you tell your current employer that you are looking for a new job and maintain good relations, thus, giving him adequate time to identify a new replacement and an opportunity for you to train that person for the transition, that looks really good.

    Imagine if your your prospective new boss calls your current boss and finds out you are this kind of person. That looks really good.

    Of course, this only works if you have an understanding and honorable boss (this is not yet an extinct species), but it's something to consider. :smile:
  10. Oct 25, 2010 #9


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    Refusal to allow OPM, DoD, or Diplomatic Security to contact an employer does not constitute "refusal to provide personal information," which is grounds for termination. You have to list all employers, but you are allowed to request the right to privacy between yourself and your current employer. It all depends on if the investigator(s) can get by without contacting your employer, despite what OPM's website says. If you've ever had to deal with OPM getting a clearance it shouldn't surprise you that what they say doesn't always match up with reality.

    You can argue against this all you want, but I've seen it happen first hand. Your employer doesn't necessarily have to be contacted to obtain certain levels of clearance or pass a BI, although it's not the norm.

    Edit: In any case, it's well understood that asking to interview a current supervisor can create sticky situations with regard to current employment. It's common to answer "no", but in certain situations in certain industries and organizations refusal to allow an investigator access to a current employer could significantly hurt your chances or disqualify you for the position.
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2010
  11. Oct 25, 2010 #10
    These jobs I have been applying are not at the DoD/Federal level an require a clearance; just a normal criminal background check or reference check. They are below the need of the need to conduct an investigative background check like my currently job.
  12. Oct 25, 2010 #11
    In finance, it's pretty standard to not want people to contact your current employer, and that doesn't raise any red flags.

    Also, it's standard not to do reference or criminal background checks until after an offer is pending.
  13. Oct 25, 2010 #12
    Well sorry fss, even though I don't doubt your "first hand" experience I'm going to the source for my information, not some random person online. If they say that they do it a certain way I don't understand how you justify that they don't. :smile: Again good luck to the OP.
  14. Oct 26, 2010 #13


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    That's fine. Just realize that unless contacting an employer is required by law (it isn't), it doesn't have to happen.
  15. Oct 26, 2010 #14
    I've recently switched jobs, so I've just had this mini dilemma. I live in the UK so you can't just get sacked like you can in the US, so it wan't that big of an issue for me.

    For the OP, the bottom line, is do you feel that your current employer is reasonable and will accept that your reason for leaving is fair? If so, then tell them you intend to look for a new job as it will earn some brownie points (give them more time to get a replacement etc). Then you can let the potential emplyer contact them.

    If you feel your current employer will throw a hissy fit and take their ball home (ie sack you), then just don't tell them until you have your own arse covered.
  16. Oct 26, 2010 #15
    For what its worth (not much), I agree with the fss statements in this thread.

    In general though, I wouldn't worry about allowing the place you're applying to contacting your current employer. If you're worried that they will fire you for looking for other jobs you should probably leave anyway!

    Also, they also may just contact your HR department to verify your employment info. Technically, your boss should never know.
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