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I am filling out a job application, and one section says

When may we contact this employer?

[ ] Now

[ ] After acceptance of conditional offer

I am wondering which option is better, from the prospective employer's point of view? It feels like "Now" is the best choice, but I am not sure.

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Choosing the "Now" option opens up the door for your current employer finding out that you're looking for a new job and have actually applied somewhere that is taking your application seriously. If you don't end up getting a job offer at that company, then you have uneasiness with your current employer who knows you're looking.

Choosing the "After conditional offer" option limits that since they're only contacting the current employer after they've shown a more genuine interest in hiring you. This is helpful in keeping your application 'secret' from your currently employer until closer to the point where you'd actually be transferring jobs. If you don't have anything to hide, there's no reason it should eliminate you at either stage in the game.

If you're not currently employed, choose the "Now" option. There's no reason to beat around the bush. They're basically saying they are going to check at some point, so just get it out of the way rather than waiting until later. If you do have something to hide, don't make them waste their time because it's possible they'll take it a lot more seriously if you make them wait longer to get the information.

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    This is a very good answer. I would hope most people who have a job request the second option. The response to get into contact with your supervisor before the offer really is meant for people not currently working with said supervisor for whatever reason. Waiting to tell your employeer until you have an offer on the table is fine. There is nothing wrong with that, they wouldn't tell you until they were ready to let you go, honestly it stops any possible "bad" blood. – Donald May 22 '12 at 16:21
  • I am curious how common it is for new employers to do something like this -- post hiring background check with the most recent or one of the previous employers. Any insight into this particular practice? – amphibient Sep 26 '12 at 19:10
  • In many places, the only thing the previous employer can legally respond to is, "Were they employed by you and in what position?" And even in places where more is legal, many companies will not say anything for fear of getting sued. – Peter Rowell Sep 26 '12 at 20:55
  • @foampile: It's not really a full background check, but most companies probably want to verify that you did work at these places at some point. Like stated, it's more to prevent uneasiness at the current job. You don't want to verify their employment there if it's going to cause problems with their boss, now that they know they're applying elsewhere. – animuson Sep 27 '12 at 1:52

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