I was recently applying for a job in Australia, and it said

It is a requirement that your most recent supervisor is nominated as one of your referees. Nominated referees may be contacted at any time during the recruitment and selection process.

I don't want my current employer to know that I am applying for jobs elsewhere. Is this requirement normal?

Can an applicant reasonably interpret "most recent supervisor" as the most recent supervisor that you are not currently working for?

  • 1
    What "most recent" means seems like an English language question, so probably off topic for here. If it could mean either current or former, we wouldn't be able to conclusively say what they're looking for. Sep 15, 2018 at 13:01
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    @Dukeling This question is not off-topic according to the help. what is generally normal/standard in a particular country is considered on topic. The question does not ask for legal advice and does not address policies of only a specific company. Sep 24, 2018 at 22:39

3 Answers 3


I'm not aware of any reason why it would be illegal (though I'm unfamiliar with Australian law), but there's also no reason why you have to play ball.

I would call them, explain that you're unwilling to use your current supervisor and offer a number of others as potential referees. If they still don't want to budge, then just walk away - that could just be the start of a whole string of unreasonable demands.


Could most recent supervisor possibly be interpreted as the most recent supervisor that you are not currently working for?

Yes, you're free to interpret it any way you want, and it's not very important at this stage, it's just the application.


Interpretation—-I don’t see how that could be read as asking for your previous supervisor.

Legal—-If Australia is like the US they can ask for any reference they want, whether they will get it or not is another matter.

While it is not uncommon to get a reference from a current supervisor, it is also not uncommon for there to be difficulties with doing so. A company demanding current supervisor is IMO being unreasonable.

Given that this is a job you haven’t even applied for, I would suggest just ignoring it and not applying. Let them suffer the consequences of such an unreasonable demand.

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