To Tell Your Boss, Or Not to Tell Your Boss – That is the Question!

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Recently an article was posted on, reporting a recruitment agency that accidentally told a candidates employer that she was looking for a new job. Obviously, this is a high breach of confidentiality – but to make matters worse, the candidates employer was known to have previously bullied the employee; honestly, it was a huge balls up!

You can find the full article here.

But this begs the question, when is the best time to let your boss know you’re job hunting? Should you remain quiet when a potential employer asks you for an interview? Do you let your manager know once you’ve been selected as a finalist? Or, do you wait until you receive the new job offer in writing to break the news to your current employer?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear cut answer that I can give you. It all depends on you, your boss and your workplace. There are two options:

  • Tell your boss
  • Don’t tell your boss

If you were to tell your boss, it could potentially jeopardise your current position – leaving you vulnerable if you were to be unsuccessful in finding a new role. To cover their own ass, your employer will no doubt already be planning for your depart and looking to replace you. You’d need to be prepared to face those obstacles/challenges if you chose to tell your boss.

If you weren’t to tell your boss, you’d have a lot more security, however, it can feel uneasy, sneaky and dishonest.

David Boggs, practice leader of WK Advisors suggested that there are 7 factors that you should take into account when faced with this tricky (and slightly awkward) decision:

1. Honesty

If you find yourself leaning towards sharing a potential career opportunity, ask yourself why, and be honest!! Are you compelled by a sense of loyalty to your staff, employer, or company? Or, are you hoping the news might provide useful leverage at your current job? FYI – this is a very risky game to play and a game we’d advise you not to partake in!

2. Ethics

Have a think about your own habits and tendencies. How have you handled previous job searches – did you let people know, and if so, how did that work out for you? Think about colleagues who kept their candidacy quiet and those who shared their upcoming interview with the team: Which felt to you like the more appropriate approach? Then you’ve basically got your answer there.

3. Your Employer

Truly understand your employer; do you have a trusting relationship with your superior, or do you fear retribution? It could be that your boss truly supports you and understands there is a need to move on. However, it could also be that they don’t really appreciate change and growth and may become a bit hostile when told. There are a few variables to consider – your employer may feel like a second thought, and that you’re focussing so much on leaving, that your work is suffering. Your decision to leave may also cause a bit of tension in the office, if people think your heart isn’t in it and have a sense of betrayal.


4. Risk Assessment

How anxious you are to leave your current position? Do you hate your current role, or are you simply curious to other opportunities? Disclosing that you are a candidate at another company may put your current job at risk, remember that. Bear in mind, if you are not accepted for the new role, you’ll still be in your current role (if they haven’t found your replacement), or possibly unemployed.

5. Work Culture/Climate

One question: When an employee leaves, is there a mood of celebration for the new opportunity presented to your colleague, does nothing change, or is there resentment about their “betrayal” and “disloyalty”?

6. Timing

Timing is everything!! If you’re being seriously considered for a new position; it’s probably time to get honest and break the news. The most cautious ,and probably the wisest, approach is to wait until you’ve accepted the new position and signed on the dotted line. However, that’s not to say to dump your current employer in the proverbial shit, you still want to leave on good terms, right??

7. Trust Your Gut

Most importantly, trust yourself – only you can decide what’s best for you!

Remember – “Secret secrets are no fun. Secret secrets hurt someone.” – The Office S03E14

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