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Mediocre references lead to missed opportunities

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Question: I've been at my current government position for five years. (Same manager the whole time.)  I’ve interviewed for many positions that I’m well qualified for.  When they call my manager, he gives me a mediocre reference. (He won't put anything negative in writing.)  As he probably couldn’t easily find someone else to do my job, I believe he doesn’t want me to leave. When I spoke with him about the reference, he denied it.

Since I currently perform work for others, too, I offer them as references, too. With my cover letter, application and resume, I include a performance report that my manager has written (saying I'm outstanding and should be promoted to the next level), attached with my rank score. I'm just frustrated that many opportunities have passed me by. I’ve lost respect for him (for being dishonest) and no longer desire to work for him.

What do you recommend I do?  -- Anonymous


I wouldn't use my current boss as a reference. Since he knows you want a new position, he will make it hard for you to leave. Maybe use a co-worker or someone else with authority in the organization should the new company need a current reference.

Don't use your current manager as reference. If you've worked with other managers, use them as a reference. If the job is internal, you may want to go over your boss's head. Don't let your manager's unprofessionalism keep you from advancing.

It is perfectly acceptable not to use your current manager as a reference. Most people do not want their current employers to know that they are seeking work elsewhere. I work with three managers and assist in the interviewing process. No one ever loses any points for saying not to contact their current managers.

I wouldn't use him as a reference. He obviously doesn't want to lose you and so won't help you. You can use another person you work for as a reference. Good Luck!!

Write you own reference and ask your boss to sign it. Be truthful, don't embellish, and he would have no reason to refuse.

He can't handle you moving because you are his right hand to keep him looking good.

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