Q. I have had a few interviews with an agency that now wants names of references, including one or two co-workers who could talk about my teamwork. No one at my current agency knows I’m interviewing and I’m uneasy about letting them know anything when I’m not sure I’m getting a job offer. What should I do? –TS
A. You are right to be cautious. Reference checking normally occurs when a job offer is pending, but your situation is different. You have not been told they plan to make an offer upon completion of reference checking. Assuming you don’t have a co-worker who can be trusted to keep such a juicy secret, offer to provide names of individuals who worked with you in past jobs or college. Explain that absolutely no one at your current agency knows about your potential move, and that you’re uncomfortable with confiding in co-workers without knowing the likelihood of an offer. The firm should understand it’s unreasonable to expect you to provide a reference from a current employer. A breach of confidence could jeopardize your future at your current agency should the job offer not come through.
This is a good reminder about the importance to rely on family and mentors for advice when it comes to job searches while you are currently employed. Some job seekers are totally open with co-workers about their job search activities, thinking no one will escalate the information to supervisors. Such information invariably reaches others, including management. The loyalty issue could affect future consideration for advancement in your present firm. Some people float such possibilities to put pressure on management in the hopes it results in an improved situation with a current employer. That’s a dangerous roll of the career dice.