Thursday, September 29, 2005

Don't Ask Your Boss to be a Reference

A pretty obvious (in hindsight) lesson learned:

I am in school now, studying a fairly obscure academic subject, pursuing a PhD in it, and generally being a great big nerd. But that's not nerdy enough for me, no no no no NO! I am also working in a tech company. Geek^2. It does help pay the bills though and it is a fun job. I really enjoy it and adore my manager so I can't complain. In fact, I realize that I'm damn lucky.

But along comes cool tech company #2 (CTC2, as opposed to CTC1) to solicit me for a job with them. CTC2 would be a dream company to explore but I have history with CTC1 and they can offer me much more financial stability than CTC2 can. So I'm mulling this cash vs cool problem over and CTC2 says I can at least send in my resume and see if they will actually offer me a position. "Sure," I think, "that can't hurt."

So, I start updating my resume. I get to the references section and see one name. Better add some others. I add a professor with whom I have worked and then I add my current boss. I call the professor to ask for permission and she says OK. Great. One more to go. I call up my current boss and explain the situation and he says "No, I don't think that's a good idea." At this point I am thinking that maybe I offended him with even considering CTC2 or something but no, it's much simpler.

Scenario 1: My boss hates me. Why would I want him to be a reference? He would just say nasty things and I'll never get any job.

Scenario 2: My boss likes me. He would like to keep me as an employee. Why should he help me leave him? He probably won't like but he probably won't volunteer any information about me that might make me more appealing to CTC2 or any other CTC.

So either way, my boss isn't going to say great things about me to a propspective employer. Ergo I should not use him as a reference. Thankfully, the situation is closer to #2. In retrospect, it was a pretty simple. Also, in retorspect, I was a complete dumbass for not realizing this until my boss laid it out for me. My hindsight is 20/20 but my vision looking forward is apparently legally blind.

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