If you’re embarking on a career change or just looking for a new challenge, you will have to consider whether or not to inform your boss of this. For most employees, the idea of telling their boss that you’re looking elsewhere is a worrying concept, and most of us will avoid doing so until the last possible moment.
However, there is a school of thought which suggests that perhaps honesty is indeed the best policy and that you might be missing out if you withhold this information from your boss. So, in an effort to help you decide the right way forward for you, let’s dig into arguments so you can make an informed decision: should you tell your boss when you’re looking for another job?
YES: Your boss might want to make you a better offer
If you are valued in your existing role, then your boss will want to keep you around. They may be willing to make you a better offer to stay in your current job, or potentially even look to promote you.
If they only discover that you’re looking for other opportunities when the deal is done and you’re handing in your notice, then they can’t compete, and you could lose out as a result. Just ensure that when you tell your boss you’re looking for other work, you add into the conversation that you’re really happy at the existing company, and you’re just looking for the next step in your career. With any luck, they’ll take the hint!
NO: Your boss might decide to release you from your contract before you’re ready
If your boss decides that you’re looking for work elsewhere, they may quickly decide that they may as well cut the cord now— after all, you’re going to be leaving. This seems harsh but, to them, it might make sense; if they know that you have to be replaced, they might as well get on with replacing you as soon as possible.
It’s unlikely this will happen, but it’s important to consider how you will cope if it does.
YES: They might know of a connection that can help you
The job hunting process is never easy; you have to find good leads, go to interviews, chase responses, and generally dedicate yourself to the task. Of course, it’s worthwhile if you land your dream job, but any assistance you can obtain is always going to be useful.
There’s every chance that your existing boss might be able to help you; they may know of a sister company who is looking for an employee, or just have business connections they’re happy to leverage on your behalf.
NO: They may hold it against you if you decide to stay
If you decide to stay in your existing job, and your boss knows you wanted to leave, then it’s not beyond the bounds of supposition to think they may hold this against you. If you do tell your boss that you’re intending to leave and then change your mind, it’s important that you speak to them about it and explain your reasons for staying.
However, there’s no denying they may still treat you unfairly— some bosses will inevitably be upset if an employee wants to leave, even if they understand it’s just part and parcel of the modern workplace. You can’t control their feelings, so be prepared for a potential backlash that could make your working life difficult if you decide to forgo a move.
YES: You may need your boss to give you a reference
When you have your resume compiled, you will be asked for references— and you’re going to need them to be good. By and large, recruiters want to see that you’re confident enough to list your existing employer as a reference.
If you omit this, they may wonder why you have chosen to do so, and their conclusions aren’t likely to be good. You can avoid this by telling your boss that you’re looking for other work and asking them to provide a reference for you; any good boss will be more than happy to assist you in this regard, but they can only do it if you actually ask them!
To conclude, ultimately, the decision is a personal one, based on your understanding of your boss’ nature, your position in the company, and how keen you are to move into another role. Now you have the full facts in front of you, you are well-equipped to ensure you make the right decision for your circumstances. Good luck!
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