Artwork by: Antonina Kasyanikova
Looking to secure a new job? Should you let your current boss know you are starting to interview or is it best to keep this close to the vest? Follow our advice to do what’s best for your specific job search process!
Making the decision to look for a new challenge or a fresh direction in your career is the first step, followed up by polishing your resume, applying for jobs, and securing some interviews. But how do you approach this situation with your current employer? Who should you alert when you are interviewing for jobs?
Many people start looking for a job while they are still employed. There is nothing wrong with that, but you may need to tread carefully when it comes to your current employer. Is the best approach to be an open book in terms of your job search or is it better to keep quiet and carry on as normal until you secure a job offer?
In this blog, we will explore:
Assessing whether to tell your boss you have an interview
Avoiding common pitfalls
How to keep job interviews confidential
Managing job searches on social media
Timing your exit strategy the right way
"Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great." - John D. Rockefeller, Business magnate
This very much depends on your unique situation, in terms of your relationship with your boss and the company culture. Tread carefully when making this personal decision and review it on a case-by-case basis as every job and boss will be different. Taking some advice from a good friend, trusted colleague, or career counselor can also aid your decision-making process.
If you are unhappy in your current role or uncertain of how your boss will react, it may feel better to keep your upcoming interview quiet. Here we explore the key areas to consider when deciding to alert your employer in the event you are interviewing for a new job opportunity.
Reflecting on your relationship with your boss will be a key indicator of whether it’s a good idea to have an open and honest discussion of your future career plans. Consider:
How well do you get on with your manager?
What are the interpersonal dynamics between you both?
What is their attitude toward you?
Would you say that they are approachable and supportive?
If you have a great relationship with your boss and you consider them supportive, that’s a good indicator you can approach them to let them know that you are seeking more or different responsibilities.
It may be that your manager can help you with your job search and be happy to provide you with a stand-out reference. (It can also lead to your manager giving you a promotion/raise/more responsibilities to keep you with the company.)
During your job search, you may actually realize that you are happy where you are and “the grass isn’t greener.” In this scenario, it may be better to stay in your job or have a conversation with your manager about other opportunities in the company. If you find you actually have a great job and are lucky to be where you are, it’s okay to stay put and put the job search on hold for now.
Most employees prefer not to tell anyone they are attending interviews until they have a signed and sealed employment offer for a new role, particularly if they feel they are working for a less supportive boss or don’t have a concrete job offer on the table.
If you inform your employer too early that you are shopping for jobs, you could experience the following drawbacks:
Fewer opportunities to secure prize projects or long-term assignments
Little or no future investment in training and development
Being viewed as disloyal by your boss and threatened with termination as a result
Unemployment if you are fired with no confirmed job offer
You can’t use your boss as a reference for the new job
Focus on leaving the company on good terms by working to your best ability throughout the period of your job search. If you kick back and relax, this won’t reflect well on your professional reputation or may negatively impact a reference for your new job.
Tell your prospective employer that your job search is confidential. Inform them that your current employer is not aware that you are seeking another job. References can be secured when a job offer is signed.
Talk badly about your current employer. Take the high road and don’t burn any bridges, even if your boss is a bit of a tyrant! Focus on moving forward rather than complaining about what you are trying to escape from.
If you decide not to tell your boss you are looking for a new job, then make sure you don’t accidentally tip them off that you are actively searching for another job and attending interviews.
Don’t use the company internet for your job search. Many companies monitor internet usage, so your employer will see red flags if you are conducting job searches at work. Provide your personal contact email and cell phone to the prospective employer rather than any work contact details, and avoid taking calls in or near the office with people in earshot!
It’s also a good idea to arrange any interviews during out of office hours so you aren’t having to take time off work as a result. Try to arrange interviews before or after work, at lunchtime, and/or on personal or vacation days. This is the best way to not raise any suspicions with your current employer and avoid negatively impacting their operations by being less productive.
Confiding in a trusted colleague is one thing, but if you share your job search with a colleague you don’t know well or with several co-workers, then you could create a rumor mill that eventually gets back to your boss. The exception here is in the event of layoffs, where conversations about job searches should be open and supported by management.
If your dress code at work is smart/casual and you suddenly arrive at work in a sharp suit and leave an hour early, this might raise some eyebrows! It’s best to change in a restroom near your interview destination or, if possible, go home to get ready.
Advertising your availability for a new job on social media is likely to be seen by your employer or colleagues. A potential employer won’t be impressed by this approach, either. They will think you perhaps lack discretion and may question your loyalty to them as an employee in the future.
However, do ensure your LinkedIn profile is sparkling, up-to-date, and complete. The majority of people are on LinkedIn, so it won’t raise any suspicion from your boss that you are on this platform. If you have an impactful profile, you may actually come across a great opportunity too. Just don’t include a ‘call to action’ in your profile stating that you are looking for a new job.
In a recent article by Harvard Business Review, nearly 48% of employers confirmed that they keep track of their employees on social media! Being discreet on these platforms is therefore critical if you don’t want your boss to find out you are considering a move to a new job.
Timing and preparation is everything when you are changing jobs or switching careers. Here are four key points to take into account in deciding when to tell your boss you are interviewing:
If you decide to have the conversation with your boss that you are seriously looking for another job, schedule a quiet time to discuss this when your manager is free. Avoid wandering into their office to discuss it when your boss is likely time-pressed with other priorities.
Identify valid and compelling reasons why you are looking for a new job or to change careers. This will ensure the conversation stays on track and your boss will have a better understanding of your reasons for a career/job move.
This includes maintaining your standards throughout the notice period and overseeing the handover to your replacement. This will demonstrate your professionalism and uphold your reputation.
This will be counterintuitive. Just ensure you inform your boss as soon as you have accepted a job offer in a polite and professional manner, then complete your notice period.
Weigh up on a case-by-case basis whether telling your boss you are job hunting is a good idea or not. Some may be supportive, others not so much!
Consult with a mentor, trusted friend, or colleague who can provide you with additional insight as to whether a conversation with your boss about leaving is worthwhile.
Make sure you maintain high standards of work until you leave the position, as this will protect your professional reputation and ensure you secure a great reference.
Helen is an experienced freelance writer with a strong background in job search and career advice, in particular resume best practices, interviewing, and personal and professional development. Before Career.io, Helen worked for high-profile recruitment firms and in the field of HR management, so she has a strong sense of what recruiters are looking for in a potential employee as well as experience in supporting career growth and development.