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When Should I Tell My Boss I’m Looking for Another Job?

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Guest writer Nevin Thompson, a business writer who covers HR issues, discusses what to do (and what not to do) when looking for a job when you’re already employed.

Note: This post does not contain legal advice.  If you would like advice on your specific situation, please contact Spraggs Law.

Looking for a new job while you’re still employed can often feel a bit sneaky. All the furtive plans and clandestine phone calls in storage closets can feel strange.

Should you keep mum if your potential new workplace asks you for an interview? Do you let your current employer know if you make the shortlist? Or is it best to wait until you receive the new job offer in writing?

In this situation, telling the truth can have real consequences for many employees. For example, your current employer may decide to replace you. In a slightly less palatable scenario, many employees fear spilling the beans about their job search could make things uncomfortable at work.

Read more: What is ‘Reasonable Notice’ Under B.C. Employment Law?

Deciding to Tell the Boss is Not an Easy Decision

Because we all need to earn a living to pay the bills, we often have to send out resumes even if we already have a job. An added irony is that many potential employers tend to favour people who already have a job.

If you’re already employed it gives the hiring manager more confidence you’re qualified and will be a productive employee. For the job seeker, being employed also provides leverage when negotiating salary and benefits.

On the flip side, looking for a job while you’re unemployed may raise doubts in a potential employer about whether or not you’re a safe bet as an employee.

If you’re wondering whether or not you should break the news to your employer that you’re seriously thinking of leaving, here are some tips to help you make your decision.

1. Understand Your Motivations

If you are considering sharing your potential new job with your current employer, ask yourself why. Is it because you feel loyal to your workmates or your supervisor? Or, are you hoping to be rewarded with incentives to stay on, such as a better salary or a new job title?

2. Assess the Risks

Disclosing that you are looking for work may put your current job at risk. If you aren’t in fact selected for the new position, will you be able to continue your job search while unemployed?

3. Understand Your Workplace Culture

No matter your personal ethics, the decision to inform your employer depends a lot on where you work. Has anyone else in the company lost their jobs after being honest about their search? When an employee does leave, is the general mood one of celebration for a new opportunity or resentment about perceived disloyalty?

4. Time Your Disclosure Properly

If you decide to be honest about your job search, your employer might view this transparency as a red flag: perhaps you are announcing your job search as a way to leverage a better position at your current job. Timing is everything when deciding to disclose your job hunt. The most cautious (and sometimes the wisest) approach is to wait until you’ve accepted the new position and signed a new contract.

5. Use Your Common Sense

Above all, use your common sense when deciding to disclose your situation. You not only have to consider the situation at your current company, but also at your future employer as well.

Questions About British Columbia Law?

Do you have any questions for the team at Spraggs? Leave a comment below — we’d love to hear from you. And, as always, if you have any questions about labour standards, be sure to contact one of our employment lawyers in Vancouver.