Should You Tell Your Employer Before Or While You Are Looking For A New Job?

This is a common situation that many job seekers will face at some point in their career, that is you make the decision that you are going to look for a job elsewhere, but wonder if you should inform your boss that you are looking for a new role.

There is of course no right or wrong answer to this question as it can depend entirely on the relationship with your manager and the nature of the situation. So, it is important that you take each situation as it comes and make a decision on the merits of the situation.

Even though we have said there is no right or wrong answer to this situation, we think that in the first instance you should err on the side of caution and not tell your manager, and there are four main reasons for this which are:

1. You should discuss it with family and friends first to help you get a perspective.

2. While you are simply applying for jobs your employer cannot offer much help

3. You can always tell your employer later

4. You may change your mind and decide to stay put and needlessly have alerted your boss of your desire to leave.
Even if you have a good relationship with your manager, it may be worth being ultra-conservative and refraining from disclosing your job search to them – as when they find out you are looking for a job they could feel betrayed and it may change the nature of your relationship in a negative way. For example, if your manager feels you are looking to leave you may be seen as a little disloyal. This could harm your relationship with your manager – and make your last few months more difficult than they need to be.
So, we’d recommend that you apply for a few jobs first and test the market to see just how easy it is for you to get interviews or to find suitable roles at the right salary level. It could be that it’s a tight job market and that it could take several months for you to find a job or you decide to suspend your job search until the market improves, which means you will have needlessly alerted your boss of your desire to leave. This is why you should not disclose your job search intentions to your boss too early; wait until you are much more certain about when you will be leaving.

Of course if you find the market is good and you start getting interviews straight away, it will be harder to conceal your job search activities as you will need to take time off to attend interviews. To counteract this, ask your agency or the interviewing company if it is possible to interview outside working hours as you can interview without alerting your boss. However, if you begin to find that the market is good and there are plenty of opportunities and you are getting interviews easily, you may soon be in a situation where you should tell you employer. (Ask your recruiting agent – if you are using one – how long they think it will take you take get a job.)

If you are finding that it is a candidate’s market and that you have reason to be bullish about getting a job in a month or so – it may be a good time to tell your boss. This means that you can start to reap the benefits of having your employer knowing about your desire to leave, that is you can get them to confirm they’ll act as a referee. They may also be accommodating about you attending interviews.
So, that is our advice; hold off on telling your manager about your desire to move until you are sure the job market is good and you have a reasonably good chance of finding a job in 2 months or less.