Postdoc reference

posted
18-Nov-19, 19:00
Avatar for Jamie_Wizard
posted about 3 weeks ago
Hi all,

I may be offered a post-doc position at a very good university. However, their HR just emailed me to ask for a reference from my current employer, a large research institute - apparently they need the last 3 years, and I've been here almost 2. Personally, I don't feel comfortable with this as things are going well in this employment (other than it is consultant rather than research which I'd prefer) - if the offer doesn't materialise I'll jeopardise my current role.

My current role is good, but there isn't much chance of career progression and the senior staff/directors are known for keeping people in the post with little prospect of advancing - and a number of people have recently left after being here very long. I fear this could also impact on any reference that is supplied, if my current employer does respond to the request.

Any pointers would be appreciated. It does seem rather odd that they are requesting this.

JW
posted
18-Nov-19, 20:59
edited about 1 second later
by Nead
Avatar for Nead
posted about 3 weeks ago
I don't thinks it's odd that they are asking this. I've just accepted a post doc and due to start in two weeks. I was asked for references and a copy of my thesis before I was given a job offer. I'm my experience they won't give you a formal offer until your references check out. I'm currently working as a research assistant. For that job they also checked my references before any offer.

Personally, I would give them the reference, but kindly make it know that you only want your current employer contacted if a job offer is being considered.
By asking your current job for a reference shouldn't effect your current job. They should be honest in there references. They other side is do you want to work for a company that offer little progression ?

I know it hard call, but I'd give the reference information. At least if you do get the job offer, your current employer will have an idea that your looking elsewhere. Which should make handing in a notice a slight bit easier
posted
18-Nov-19, 21:13
edited about 25 seconds later
Avatar for Jamie_Wizard
posted about 3 weeks ago
Thanks Nead. i'm glad hey are checking out my references, it makes them diligent which I appreciate. However, my qualm is with their request for a reference with my latest employee. i filled out a form listing a number of other very recent academic and employment referees and checked the box that said that I'm happy for them to be contacted.
posted
18-Nov-19, 22:08
edited about 20 seconds later
by Nead
Avatar for Nead
posted about 3 weeks ago
I get that, but it's also understandable for them to look for the latest employer. Two years with any employer is a long time, and it's understandable that they want yo ask them .
If I'm been honest, id want to ask them to. I'd find it weird if someone was working with someone for two years and wasn't willing for them to be contacted. Maybe email HR asking is it a necessary and explain you don't want to my your current role in jeperody. For HR , looking for references is a tick the box job. Could you even ask your current job for a written reference for your records and pass that on to them ? Alternatively could you ask a manger to give the references rather that a senior staff or director ?
Alternatively you don't give them permission to get the reference and could end up losing a job offer
posted
18-Nov-19, 22:22
edited about 1 minute later
Avatar for Jamie_Wizard
posted about 3 weeks ago
Thanks Nead. I understand where you are coming from. Unfortunately, two of my line managers have left and myself and a colleague are being line managed by a deputy director of our department.

I have a glowing appraisal from my current role which was written by a director who undertook my appraisal -- but who'm I'm sure won't want me to leave as it would leave the department short staffed. I wonder if I could submit this?

Or perhaps I could suggest a proviso that they can contact them only after making a formal offer - although that worries me a little -- I tend to be too much of a worrier! :-/
posted
18-Nov-19, 22:28
edited about 9 seconds later
by rewt
Avatar for rewt
posted about 3 weeks ago
I think you should take the risk. Most companies only check references after they have made the decision otherwise it would be a pain to call every reference for every application. Though could you give your old line managers as references instead as they probably be safer?
posted
19-Nov-19, 15:23
Avatar for Jamie_Wizard
posted about 3 weeks ago
Thanks Rewt, yes good point regarding the reference check. The trouble is our first line manager left disgruntled after he was promoted from to a team lead without any increase in salary, presumably as he'd already had yearly increments over the 7 years he was here, and the replacement left after just 4 months due to a bullying issue which myself and a colleague had to report to HR on - he knew of this as he left. In lieu I've offered to provide my signed appraisal paperwork which was very praiseworthy. That way it can't be subject to any bias given the situation and also keeps my current bosses from knowing I may be leaving. Lets see what happens.

Incidently, a while back, there was a good postdoc role in my institute with a PI here. I applied for it -- this PI is always approaching our department for technical help. I applied, but didn't get invited for an interview despite having the relevant background. Around the time, I saw my boss (DIrector of our group who had to line manage us in the absence of a manager and who usually works at a different site), and instead of the usual pleasant greeting, he seemed annoyed with me but didn't say anything. I'm quite sure it was brought up between the PI and my director as they know each other well.

JW
posted
19-Nov-19, 18:05
edited about 12 seconds later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 3 weeks ago
This is more just trying to stimulate ideas than an actual suggestion - but could you ask them to only contact references if it is a job offer - or perhaps ask them when they would be contacting referees, i.e. at what stage? Then at least you have this info.

How about this... chances are they may make an offer if they go as far as obtaining references... so you have a lot to gain. If on the other hand they still end up choosing another candidate, you worry (understandably) that it could adversely affect things in your current role. Although your current role is good in some ways, to have to feel like this about a job isn't good at all... so it seems that really you want out anyway in the short to medium term? In which case - take the risk? They are going to have to know sooner or later that you are looking elsewhere, as each time you get close to an opportunity there will be this issue.

Not sure this helps at all. And by the way, the opportunity sounds very positive!
posted
20-Nov-19, 14:19
Avatar for Jamie_Wizard
posted about 3 weeks ago
Thanks Tudor!

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