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I know similar questions have been asked before, but I think this case is particularly complicated, so some advice would be extremely helpful.

Back in early December I accepted an offer from company A, with which I had also interned during the sumemr. Now, I have recently been in contacted by company B, which offered me the possibility of working on something that is a better fit to my background, and after a couple of meetings actually offered me a position. However, this position is conditional on receiving a satisfactory reference from A, which doesn't know I intend to leave.

I see two possible scenarios:

  • Talk to B, explain the situation and check whether they're ready to see a not particularly glowing reference from A, despite the fact that after working there as an intern I got a permanent position (so I wasn't that bad after all). If B appreciates and understands the situation, then talk to A and say I'm leaving.
  • Talk to A first and say I'm leaving, then talk to B and explain the situation. However, this leaves open the possibility that B may declare they're not ok with the reference from A, which would leave me in an undesirable situation.

Is there a better/safer way to handle such a situation?

  • So find yourself a senior person at your company who is not a supervisor who is willing to be your reference and keep quiet about it. A person who is a senior person at A who recently left A might be a satisfactory reference so far as B is concerned - Once upon a time, I was that senior person. – Vietnhi Phuvan Jan 28 '15 at 22:59
  • Vietnhi's comment is the right approach. Hopefully you have worked with a senior person that you can trust somewhat. Preferably someone who had some leadership role over you in some way. Short of that, ask if a copy of the job offer from A is sufficient enough recommendation? They wouldn't be offering you a job if they wouldn't also recommend you. – Dunk Jan 29 '15 at 23:08
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Definitely talk to B company first. Do not tell A that you are leaving before your position with B is secure.

Talking to A about your position under these circumstances could leave you with no job from either A or B. You never want to tell your company that you're leaving for another position until that position you're moving onto is secured. Until offer is officially accepted, background checks through, etc., there's a slim chance the offer may not go through. More so in this situation where B is demanding a recommendation from A before actually giving you an offer.

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