What if the prospective employer insists on talking to the candidate’s current supervisor? What can the job seeker do if he doesn’t want his current supervisor to know he’s looking for another job? First of all, there’s an unwritten rule that no prospective employer should ever jeopardize someone’s current job. As a matter of fact, most job applications have a section that asks if the current employer may be contacted. If the job seeker doesn’t want that to happen, he should say “no,” and that request should be honored without question.
As an alternative, most job seekers ordinarily will have at least one friend or co-worker who can be trusted; and that’s generally all that’s needed. The other option for the job seeker is to provide plenty of other work-related references from among previously held jobs or that specialized class of individuals who have retired, taking other jobs, or moved to other functional areas within the company.
A job seeker can ask the prospective employer to delay calling the current supervisor until the job offer has been made. Some employers make job offers contingent on reference checking anyway! (Nevertheless, extra thought should be given about doing it this way; if the offer is withdrawn, the candidate will know exactly what caused that to happen. Clearly, it will have been something that was said by one of his references—or his now-former supervisor.)
Finally, if the job seeker doesn’t want the prospective employer to contact his current supervisor, he should say so and explain why not. And to avoid any misinterpretation of the request, just ask the prospective employer to wait, as previously noted, until an offer of employment has been made.