Usually, when you send your application for a new position in larger companies, they would ask you for a reference. This is fine if you have a good relationship with your current boss, but if you do not, it can become a headache for you. Reference details usually include details of your former manager or your current manager. Hiring managers usually request this to know more about you in general (e.g. attitudes and work ethics). On a piece of paper or an email, you will provide the reference name and last name, phone number and his/her position. This may not be the case for most startups and small companies as their mindset is generally different when they are hiring. But let’s see what is the problem with this approach.
Problem with this approach
Personally, I think this is not an effective approach when a hiring manager asks about a reference in your application during the hiring process. My main reasons for this is, most of the time you leave your current job because you cannot get along with the leadership style or the managers. This creates an altercation between the employee and the management and it ends up with a not “Very Good” relationship. In this case, the manager may not have a very positive vibe about the employee and vice versa. This may result in your current manager or your former manager giving incorrect feedback as their feedback is affected by their emotions.
Indeed you cannot tell your adventure tale to your hiring manager in the 30 minutes interview session because this does not give a professional impression about you to him. You need to be positive and make a great first impression in your interview. But it doesn’t mean that you should not tell anything about it.
Here is the 3 suggestions and workaround to handle this situation as good as possible. These methods are simple but it can help you during this situation efficiently.
1. Share why you are leaving your company
This is a usual question your future manager will ask you often and candidates sometimes give a “not real” reason for this. Instead, you can explain shortly why you are really leaving your company and for sure they will have empathy to understand your situation. Let’s say if you are leaving your current company because of bad leadership, tell them you are not in a good relationship with you boss because they didn’t value your work. Here you need to explain what you did to add value to the company and why you didn’t get the acknowledgement as you expected. You need to be honest here to explain the real reason behind it. Do not be so negative in front of the hiring manager as this will damage your reputation. Keep it professional and short.
2. Refer another department manager
You cannot be in a bad relationship with everyone in your company! Check which head of departments or directors have the best relationship with you. You may currently be working with them or have worked with them on a variety of projects. When you find a suitable person, go and talk with him/her. You can simply ask him whether he would like to be your reference or not. You can explain why you want to reference him/her. When he agrees to do so, just add his profile details to your reference list and send it to your hiring manager.
3. Find a workaround with your current manager
I believe as much as you can, you should not burn the bridges especially if your industry is small. This is also good as a professional to keep it professional. So, as an alternative solution, make a quick meeting with your manager and tell him you are leaving the company and also tell him how thankful you are for being in the team. Showing your gratitude always opens more door for friendships. After that, tell him you would like to refer him as your reference for your next company. You don’t need to disclose your future employer’s details until he confirms he will give you a good feedback!
Reference usually comes with other assessment and interview sessions which are more likely gives a better result. In modern hiring, most companies get help from skills testing systems which gives a set of questions to a candidate to solve them. This system assesses the candidate based on every question scored and when you finish your assessment, it tells you what is your mark from the assessment (e.g. HTML 95%).
Secondly, there will be multiple interview sessions with the hiring manager, your future managers, VPs or MDs. A suitable candidate can absolutely prove himself/herself during these interview sessions. This gives a clear ground for both parties to assess and understand each other and decide accordingly.