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My manager's manager and I are on fairly good terms and he's familiar with some of my work - would it be a bad idea to ask him for a recommendation for a new job? I'm not entirely sure I want to leave so I'm somewhat afraid of poisoning the well. Though we've worked together we're not personal friends or anything.

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    Why are you looking to leave the company? That's going to have a major impact on the answer. – ObscureOwl Jan 4 at 0:27
  • I recommend never asking someone to be a reference until after you have left their company. – Mawg says reinstate Monica Jan 6 at 6:52
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I'm not entirely sure I want to leave so I'm somewhat afraid of poisoning the well.

Honestly it's probably not worth it. At best, they'll be hesitant to consider you for promotions or long term, critical projects if they feel your days are numbered.

You're not necessarily gaining much either. It's unlikely that a single recommendation will make the difference in getting a job or not.

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Once you ask for the recommendation, you'll be sending up a huge flare that you are looking to leave. Even if your intentions are to stay, it will be hard to convince anyone that this is your true motivation regardless of how sincere you are or the kind of relationship you have developed with your coworkers.

I would only ask if you have already had the interview, and they are looking for check references, and you have a high probability of jumping ship. Even if you want to interview "just to see," I would keep this information to yourself until the interview process gets to the "checking references" portion of the process. Most prospective employers wait to check references, as they will most certainly want a reference from a current employer.

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