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Asking current boss for job recommendation

Veteran

A P Reston, VA

I’ve got what I think is a pretty unique question. I’ve worked at a small contracting/ consulting firm for almost two years. I get along well with my boss, who is also the owner of the company. However, I often feel stifled working for one client and I am wanting to make a change to a larger company where I can get more experience in different areas. I’ve expressed this to my boss before and told him that I would like to leave to another company after a couple years.
My boss is good friends with a partner at a larger company where I would like to work. Would it be inappropriate to ask him to recommend me to his friend at the other company? On the one hand, I don’t want to concern him that I’m about to jump ship- we have a good working relationship that I don’t want to jeopardize. On the other hand though, I don’t feel that I have much to lose if I’m planning on leaving the company anyways.
What do you all think are the pros/cons of asking him to try to get me on at the other company?

25 January 2019 8 replies Career Advancement

Answers

Advisor

Paul Tusting Salt Lake City, UT

Great suggestions from other mentors.
It is a tricky situation.
Another option is to ask for a recommendation from your current boss for legitimate "other" reasons, such as a scholarship, school program, etc.
Once in hand, it could be added to a Linked In profile that could be accessed as needed.
BUT, it could leave a bad taste in everyone's mouth if seen to be at all deceitful.
When in doubt it often is better to have an awkward/hard conversation upfront instead.
Best of luck!
-Paul

28 January 2019 Helpful answer

Advisor

Emanuel Carpenter Atlanta, GA

Hi AP - If I was in this situation, here is what I would do:

1. Talk to people at the larger consulting firm to make sure there is an opportunity for me to do work there. If an opportunity is confirmed, I would consider talking with the owner. There is some risk there because he could easily tell his friend (the current boss) about the inquiry. I wouldn't want to experience bone-in-mouth disease. That's when a dog has bone in his mouth, sees his reflection in the lake, and then drops his bone because he wants the other one. Of course, the dog ends up with nothing.

2. I haven't used a letter of recommendation in over 20 years but I imagine it is different in the consulting world. If a letter of recommendation is absolutely essential, I would write the entire thing myself and ask my boss to sign it. However, I would try to navigate my way through getting the new gig without the letter if possible.

3. I'd remind the boss about the conversation we had about my personal growth. But I would ensure the boss of my loyalty (if trying to work both jobs at the same time). If I was looking to only work the new consulting gig, I would tell my boss that I can help find my replacement, and I would tell my network about the job opening.

Sounds like a tough spot to be in. Best of luck.

26 January 2019 Helpful answer

Advisor

Jon Sunray Fairfax, VA

Hi..first of all, you are right to think ahead about your own growth potential and I applaud you for your desire to expand your opportunity and tackle new challenges. Since you have a good relationship with your boss, I would be candid with him and let him know what you want - diversify your client support and grow into some new opportunities. He will appreciate knowing what is on your mind if he truly cares about you (you'll have to judge that part). Perhaps he sees an opportunity for you to tackle more work in your current position. Give him a chance to think through what he might be able to do for you...after all, he will want to grow his firm and his opportunities as well. Knowing what you are willing to do and able to do might open up new doors for you in the current company. If he does not have anything to offer, I would be up front with him and ask him if he thinks the other company would be a better fit. By now, he would know you are thinking ahead and he may just be willing to support your transition to the other company. I would hope he is willing to help you grow. Either way, you have to do what is right for yourself. But first give him a chance to help you, first by potentially offering more with his company; second by referring you to another company and recommending you. Stay well.

26 January 2019 Helpful answer

Advisor

Jim Martin Berwyn, PA

Unless you have a very clear understanding that your current boss is completely supportive of you moving on, I would be cautious about asking for a recommendation. However, in the particular situation you outlined above, it is highly likely that the partner at the larger company would ask your current boss (his good friend) about you if you apply. You don't want your current boss finding out about it that way. So, if you really want to pursue this particular company, I would have an honest conversation with your boss about your intentions and seek his support. But the better choice might be to look somewhere else. Good luck, and something always works out!

25 January 2019 Helpful answer

Advisor

Carol Weber Englewood, CO

Hello - you are in a tight spot. The good collaboration with your current boss looks solid but part of that connection is because you are still working there. Your boss might have heard that you want to move on but may have internalized that you could stay for more than a few years. Being transparent could backfire especially if the other job does not come through.

What other sources do you have for recommendations? Think about your community, your Army colleagues, or former jobs. It's better to be safe than to disrupt your current situation. Best of luck.

Carol

25 January 2019 Helpful answer

Advisor

Robert Brisolari Arlington, VA

Agreed, tricky situation for sure. I would suggest having another conversation with your boss about your interest in pursuing other opportunities. Let him know how much you appreciate all he's done for you (even if not entirely true). If he reacts positively, ask him for his advice and insights on potential next steps. Mention some of the companies your interested in and see how he responds. If he doesn't mention his relationship with the partner of the other firm, then I definitely wouldn't ask for his recommendation.

Advisor

Jerry Welsh Middleville, MI

Do you have a non-compete agreement? This could hamper your job search. Just checking.

Advisor

Jo Prabhu Long Beach, CA

I have been in Recruitment for 20+ years and am sorry to say that the whole job hiring process is deceitful in many ways and its about time we stop 'lying' or bending the truth! From the resume history to the interview process we present ourselves as someone we are not just to get a paycheck and once we get in the door, hard reality presents itself. Be true to yourself and to whichever employer you work for whether its the army or as a civilian. Life gets easier if instead you use your employer as a mentor and get advice about what s/he thinks about your progress and what should be your next step. The shortest path is a straight line and perhaps a collaboration of some sort between the 2 friendly companies may make long term sense for everyone involved!

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