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HOW TO HANDLE IT IF YOUR BOSS FINDS OUT YOU'RE JOB HUNTING: 5 TIPS TO NAVIGATE A DELICATE SITUATION

ID HOTELIER - So you've made the decision to start looking for a new job. You're being discreet about it, but somehow your boss finds out. Perhaps they caught on to your not-so-subtle job-hunting clues, or maybe someone tipped them off. Either way, you're in a delicate situation.

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Credit to Diana Polekhina I Image from Unsplash

Your boss is likely to be caught off guard when they learn that you're looking for a new job, especially if they were unaware that you were unhappy in your current role. They may feel betrayed, disappointed, or even angry. From their perspective, it's natural to wonder why you didn't come to them first with your concerns. Or maybe you are one of the lucky few who has a manager that is understanding about your desire to find a new opportunity. They may just surprise you with their reaction. While you can speculate what their reaction will be, the only way to know for sure is to have that conversation.

You may be worried about how your boss will react and what it could mean for your current job. After all, you don't want to jeopardize your livelihood. It's important to handle the situation carefully so as not to damage your relationship with your boss or jeopardize your current job. It can be a tricky situation to navigate, but there are professional ways to respond and react.


It's important to be prepared for this delicate situation, so here are some pro tips for how to handle it if your boss finds out you are job hunting with grace and professionalism.

1. Be honest and direct When your boss confronts you about job hunting, it's important to be honest and direct in your response. It is best to come clean and tell them the truth about your job search instead of trying to make up excuses or lie. They are likely to appreciate your honesty and it will help bridge this awkwardness now that the truth is out in the open. At this point, the manager is likely thinking about how to manage the work that will need to be covered when you leave and how to address that in both the short and long term. So, it is also important to be prepared with a timeline for when you would like to transition out of your current role.

First, reassure your boss that you're committed to your current role and responsibilities. Then explain that you're exploring options because you're interested in [insert specific reason] and that you estimate your timeframe for giving a resignation to be [insert timeframe]. For example, you might say something like this:

"I'm so glad you brought this up. I want to assure you that I remain fully committed to my current role and responsibilities. At the same time, I am exploring options because I'm interested in [insert specific reason]. When we discussed my career growth during my last performance review, you indicated that there might not be room for advancement in the near future. I want to be transparent with you and let you know that I am actively exploring my options. While I don't currently have an offer, I anticipate giving two weeks' [one month or what is customary for your region] notice in the next month or two."

If your boss asks why you didn't come to them sooner, be honest about your reasons. For example, you might say that you have been in your role for three years and after discussions in your last performance review, there is nowhere to move up in the company. You want to stay with the company, but you need to do what's best for your career. So, you decided to start looking for a new opportunity. 2. Be prepared to discuss your reasons for job hunting Your boss is likely to have questions about your decision to job hunt, so it's important to be prepared with answers. Be ready to discuss your reasons for wanting to leave, as well as what you're hoping to find in a new role. Steer the conversation towards a positive discussion of your career growth and development or family life decisions that necessitate a change. For example, you might say that you're looking for a role with more responsibility, or one that will allow you to work more flexible hours. Or, you might say that you're moving for personal reasons and need to find a role in the new city.

Here are a few sample scripts to help you navigate this conversation: "I'm looking for a role with more responsibility so that I can continue to grow in my career." "I need a role with more flexible hours so that I can better manage my childcare [or caregiving] responsibilities." "I'm moving for personal reasons and need to find a role in [name of new city]." "I'm hoping to find a role that will allow me to utilize my skills and experience in a new way. I'm also looking for an opportunity to develop my skills further and take on more responsibility. I appreciate all that I've learned in my current role, and I'm confident that a new role will help me continue to grow professionally." Whatever your reasons, be sure to frame them in a positive light and emphasize your commitment to the company while you are employed there as well as your intention to give a proper notice.

3. Keep doing your job well Just because you're job hunting doesn't mean that you should stop doing your job well. In fact, it's important to redouble your efforts and continue meeting or exceeding expectations. This will not only help to keep things positive with your boss, but it will also make for a smoother transition if and when you do end up leaving. You might be tempted to slack off or coast while job hunting, but this is a mistake. Not only will it reflect poorly on you, but it could also damage your relationship with your boss and jeopardize your current job. Once your boss finds out you’re job hunting, she may start to treat you differently. Maybe she’ll give you more assignments or less responsibility. Instead of getting caught up in the politics of it all, keep your head down and focus on doing your job to the best of your ability.

It is possible you may end up staying with your current company, so it's in your best interest to maintain a positive relationship with your boss and continue doing your job well. Or, you could cross paths with your boss in a future organization, so it's important to leave on good terms. By continuing to do your job well, you will leave a professional and positive impression no matter the outcome of your job hunt and avoid burning any bridges that you may need in the future.

4. Don't make promises you can't keep In the heat of the moment, it's easy to make promises you might not be able to keep. For example, you might tell your boss that you'll stay in your current role for six more months if he or she gives you a raise. But if a great opportunity comes along before those six months are up, what then?

It's important not only to be honest with your boss but also with yourself. If you're considering leaving your current position, it's best not to make any promises that you can't fulfill. This way, you can avoid putting yourself in a difficult or uncomfortable position down the road. For example, you might say something like this: "I expect my job search to move quickly, but I'm not sure when I'll be able to give you an exact timeline. I promise to give you advanced notice before I leave. In the meantime, I remain fully committed to my current job and responsibilities." This way, you're being honest about your job search while also reaffirming your commitment to your current role.

5. Resist the urge to vent or gossip When you're feeling stressed about your job hunt, it can be tempting to vent to your co-workers or gossip about the situation. But this is a dangerous game to play. Not only could this get back to your boss, but it can also damage your relationships with your co-workers. It's important to remember that even though you might be job hunting, you're still employed by your current company. You should still act and behave professionally at all times. This means resisting the urge to vent or gossip about your job hunt, no matter how tempting it might be.

If you need to talk to someone about your job hunt, confide in a trusted friend or family member outside of your workplace who won't share your information with others. This way, you can get the support you need without jeopardizing your current job. Gossip is never a good idea, but it's especially important to avoid it at work. Your reasons for looking for a new job are personal, and you don't owe anyone an explanation. If someone asks about your job hunt, you can simply say that you're keeping your options open or that you're not ready to discuss it.

Final Thoughts Looking for a new job while employed can be tricky business—but if done correctly, it doesn't have to damage relationships with current bosses or colleagues. The most important thing is to remain honest and dependable for as long as you are employed with your current company. By approaching the situation with professionalism and tact, you increase the chances of maintaining strong relationships at work—even if they might look different than they did before. Additionally, you'll safeguard your credibility in your field and among your professional network. Once you have a new job lined up, give your boss advanced notice before resigning from your current role. This way, you can avoid burning any bridges and leave on good terms.

Let's Hear From You What other tips have you found to be effective in this situation? Share them with us in the comments below.

Becky Vinton - talent strategist with over 20 years' experience improving the effectiveness of organizations and enhancing employee experience as a global human resources leader and business consultant. She holds an MBA Degree and several certifications including Human Capital Strategist by the Human Capital Institute. I created Your Inspired Career to help people like you find the answers they need for a successful career and enriched life. I'm on a mission to help you thrive at work, further your life goals, achieve your career dreams & reach your full potential.

 


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Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Nice article to share with your staff. And start the journey of being honest. Keeping the team intact when talent drain happens. Continue to focus on the talent pool being created.

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