Author Topic: Asking for a reference  (Read 1283 times)

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Knitterly

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Asking for a reference
« on: April 14, 2013, 07:17:57 PM »
I'm in an interesting position and I don't want to make things awkward by asking for a reference, so I wonder if folks here could give me some input on whether it would be inappropriate or not.

I volunteer at a particular organization.  I have gotten to know many wonderful people and consider most of them friends.  They are generally very unpretentious people who are easy to get along with.

The volunteer coordinator position is a part-time one - about 10-15hrs a week.  The coordinator, someone whom I have come to consider a friend, has been trying hard to find fulltime work but has enjoyed the position while she's been searching.  She just got a full time job.  She sent out an email yesterday letting us know she is stepping down, and the formal announcement came today.

I spoke to her today and mentioned that this would be a role I might be interested in applying for and asked her for some information.  She was VERY enthusiastic.  She let me know that she'd be staying on to train the new coordinator and make sure the reins were handed over seamlessly and said I would be welcome to shadow her to get a feel for the job. 

The posting went up and after reviewing the posting, I've decided this is a role I definitely want to apply for.  It is a from-home job that I can easily balance with my current lifestyle.

At the same time, I understand there may be other volunteers who might be interested in the role, too. 

I've never been in the position of being interested in the position of someone I personally know who is stepping down.  However, she would probably be the best reference I could get. 
Would it be out of line to ask?
Do you think it would put her in an awkward position?

(As a side note, I could probably also ask for a reference from any number of people likely to be involved in the hiring process - I've gotten to know many people very well.  I just don't know if it's appropriate to do so generally.)
« Last Edit: April 14, 2013, 10:14:56 PM by Knitterly »

Foureyesonemouth

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Re: Asking for a reference
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2013, 10:40:40 PM »
That is an interesting position and a hard one. I'm leaning towards "No, you shouldn't ask her" but this is why. She is probably going to speak well about you if it comes up.  :) I think it would put her in a bad position if you asked to put her on your application since she needs to be objective in this process.

Is there another volunteer you have worked with regularly and can vouch for you?

katycoo

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Re: Asking for a reference
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2013, 11:22:39 PM »
It sounds like she may be involved in the proess of hiring her own replacement.  In these circumstances, I don't think its appropriate.

Calypso

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Re: Asking for a reference
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2013, 11:47:01 PM »
I don't think it can hurt a bit to ask, as long as you do it in such a way that she has a non-awkward "out."

"Volunteer Coordinator Lady, I am *so* excited about the possibility of serving our organization in a new capacity. Would I be out of line to ask you for a reference for the job? If you feel you shouldn't, I totally understand."

I hope you get the job!

Margo

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Re: Asking for a reference
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2013, 08:38:14 AM »
I don't think it can hurt a bit to ask, as long as you do it in such a way that she has a non-awkward "out."

"Volunteer Coordinator Lady, I am *so* excited about the possibility of serving our organization in a new capacity. Would I be out of line to ask you for a reference for the job? If you feel you shouldn't, I totally understand."

I hope you get the job!
I agree with this.

(If she is definitely going to be part of the panel selecting the replacement then it's slightly different, but if she is not formally part of the selection process then I don't think it is out of line to ask her about providing a reference - it sounds as though she is the person best placed to know your work and your ability to do the job)

Surianne

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Re: Asking for a reference
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2013, 06:43:05 PM »
I don't think it can hurt a bit to ask, as long as you do it in such a way that she has a non-awkward "out."

"Volunteer Coordinator Lady, I am *so* excited about the possibility of serving our organization in a new capacity. Would I be out of line to ask you for a reference for the job? If you feel you shouldn't, I totally understand."

I hope you get the job!

This is how I've done it in the past.  Once, the person enthusiastically agreed.  The other time, the person let me know that he would be on the hiring committee for the particular position, and so it would be a conflict of interest.  She'll let you know if it isn't appropriate.

Sounds like either way, she'll speak highly of you, which is great!  Best of luck with the job. 

Knitterly

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Re: Asking for a reference
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2013, 02:28:35 PM »
Thanks to all who replied.  I decided not to ask her for a reference.

I have a reference from the volunteer coordinator who preceded the current one, and I feel like that is still an excellent reference (I am very good friends with the previous v.c.).  I also have several other enthusiastic references. 

CookieChica

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Re: Asking for a reference
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2013, 06:54:23 PM »
I have to say I am totally on the other side of this. I'll admit that I work at a large corporation and it's different but you get references wherever you can. I don't think there's anything wrong with letting the outgoing VC know that you will be applying and if she feels comfortable speaking on your behalf, you would appreciate it.

Yes, other volunteers are probably  interested and if they're smart, they are also asking VC to put in a good word. Job searching is competitive and while there is an etiquette to it and you never bad mouth a fellow applicant, you have to look out for yourself.