When You Should (and Shouldn't) Tell Your Boss You're Job Searching

If you are not thrilled with your current work situation, chances are you have probably discussed your options with family or friends. You may have even confided in your co-workers. But there’s probably one person you haven’t run it by: your boss.

Whether you’re unhappy in your present position or simply seeking new challenges, you may be wondering if sharing your feelings with your immediate supervisor would be more helpful or harmful. What should you do? Tell your boss you’re job hunting or keep it on the low-down?

You may never know, but here are a few things to consider.


Evaluate Your Relationship

Before doing something you may regret, take some time to evaluate the nature of your relationship with your boss


If you have a supportive boss, the professional speaker and career strategist says you can let him or her know you’re looking for more or different responsibilities, and together you can explore every possible opportunity internally.


Most often, it’s in the company’s best interest to try to retain a valuable employee, and while your boss may be sorry to lose you on the team, he or she may help you move within the organization.


But if months pass and nothing comes of it, or if you’ve been given a few promises that don’t pan out, it won’t come as a surprise to your superior if you end up leaving. Engaging in the conversation takes the conflict out of the situation. It shows you don’t want to leave, you’ve tried to stay but it just isn’t happening.


When your boss learns that one of his/her top employees is interested in switching careers, initially he/she may be upset but ultimately may even help you find your way in the new endeavor.


A supportive manager can also be helpful if you think you could be on the cusp of receiving an offer and need a reference. Believing your supervisor would give her a good recommendation, let him know you were looking to move on early in her job search.

You may be in the process of applying for other positions and want to be upfront about what you are doing. You may feel that your boss would be an appropriate reference for some of the openings you were applying for, and so keeping him/her informed in the early stages in case it got to the point where I needed to provide his information, may be a good idea.

If your boss is understanding of your decision, his/her behaviour towards you will not change, as you continue to work at the same pace.


Beware the Pitfalls

While it may work out in that instance, you may probably want to take it on a case-by-case basis before disclosing a possible departure down the road.


In one situation, you may feel it was the appropriate move, but in the future it would depend on the company and your relationship with your manager.”


Unless you have a good relationship with your boss, it does not advocate sharing the news.

When one gentleman was thinking about leaving his job in marketing, he chose not to tell anyone until he’d returned the signed offer letter for his new role.


You may not want people thinking that just because you were looking for something new that meant you were not going to do the best job possible while you were still working there. You may have an expected or sudden opportunity and have no idea how long it might be before you have been offered something that made leaving worthwhile. In the meantime, you may not want to be passed over for interesting projects or looked at as the employee who couldn’t wait to jump ship.


Don’t Tell By Showing

If you opt not to tell your boss you’re thinking about making a move, be sure not to do anything that could easily tip your hand. In short: Don’t use your company’s internet to look for a new job (many employers track usage), and if you need to make or take a call, do it on your cell phone from outside the building. Conduct the bulk of your job hunt off hours.


Further, don’t advertise that you’re looking on social media, which could quickly alert higher-ups to the fact that you’re hoping to leave. Potential employers may also scan your profile and consider your lack of discretion a trait they’d prefer to avoid in a new hire.


Deciding to tell your boss you’re job hunting is an incredibly personal and definitely case-by-case decision. Weigh your options carefully, talk to a trusted friend or colleague first, and, no matter what you decide, keep bringing your A-game to the office until the day you leave.

Whether you disclose that you’re leaving or not, how you handle your last few weeks or months can do a lot (good or bad) for your professional reputation.