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Should you tell the boss you’re looking for a new job?

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in Your Office Coach

Queston: “I want to know if I should tell my manager that I’m looking for another job.  For the past several months, our company’s business has been declining. Management recently slashed our pay, and one of my co-workers was laid off. It seems obvious that anyone in this situation would be exploring other options, but I’m not sure if I should bring it up. I've always been able to talk openly with my boss, but lately he acts like a different person.” — Uncertain

Marie’s Answer:  When the business is in trouble, managers often become more uptight and remote, so your boss’s personality transformation is not unusual.  However, you are wise to hesitate before declaring your intention to depart. Here’s why:

•    If management learns that you might leave, it will immediately start considering how to get along without you. That could easily place you at the top of the next layoff list. 

•    Although it might seem illogical, managers often view an employee’s departure as a personal betrayal. Even the most rational, understanding boss may feel some resentment, so any mention of job-seeking could alter your relationship with your supervisor.

•    Finally, jobs are scarce in this economy. If your search proves to be unsuccessful, and you decide to stay, you may always be viewed as someone who has one foot out the door.

While honesty is commendable, complete disclosure often is foolish. Politically intelligent folks never discuss job search plans with anyone at work until they have secured a new position. For  suggestions on handling one critical phase of a job search, see Ten Ways to Screw Up a Phone Interview.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mohan M Prasad September 22, 2009 at 5:26 am

While the practical wisdom is to remain silent and to switch on your search button; same time, I would like you to examine where you are coming from in your query.

You have also mentioned that of late your manager is acting different.

Please check within yourself. Is your urge to ask this question gaining grounds to hear certain reassurance from him?

Like “hi! You are not in the list”. Hypothetically are you prepared to handle both ends of his response??

Well, sometimes silence is better part of saying. Your manager should be shocked in case someone in the current situation is not in the market.

While it’s important for you to be in the sharp look out , by talking to him you may create a sense of urgency(God forbid his response is not music to your ears).

If he had a brief to hold back key staff members inspite of slash in the pay etc, by now he would have had a dialogue with you.

His withdrawal says it all.

All the best

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