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Tell them "Hey, I'm looking for another job to accommodate my growing family, to be closer to my family, etc. I've enjoyed my time here and was curious if you would you be willing to be one of my professional references? I'd greatly appreciate it."
Give them the reasons why you're looking to move and, if it's a legitimate one, I think they'd be more than willing to help you out.
The other thing to think about is that most hiring companies won't do a reference/background check until after they think you'll be a good fit. Tell Company B that you will supply references from your most recent position once they are at that point (they may not ask for them until that point).
It's a tricky situation but unless you are burning the company you are currently working for then I am sure they will back you in your decision.
It will be a tricky situation for sure, and landing a new job is the key to the move. Nothing is set in stone, but it is time for a change and I wanted to have an attack plan.
Thanks for the responses.
I've owned 4 businesses for almost 10 years now and it is a highly competitive industry, it is very common for us to interview someone that needs the situation to remain confidential. When we are interested in making an offer, we simply tell that person that we will make them an offer as long as their references check out. This can still be a bit risky for the person interviewing because the comp. plan and details may not work for them.
Good Luck with the job hunt. What area are you moving to?
"which is like watching one of your buddies announce that he's quitting booze and cigarettes, switching to a Vegan diet and training for triathalons ... but he's going to keep snorting heroin." Bill Simmons, ESPN
This is a great solution; recruiters commonly pull recommendations off of LinkedIn for their hiring managers. These recommendations can easily be copied and pasted into a document to send with your CV.