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Before the Two-Weeks' Notice: If, and How, to Tell Your Boss You're Looking

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With record numbers of job openings and coworkers fleeing for exciting new positions, it may be difficult not to wonder if the grass is greener on the other side of the cubicle. Whether simply curious to see if something jumps out from a job board, or actively seeking out a new role, job searches are often kept under wraps until it’s time for the two-weeks' notice. But is this a mistake? 

Here’s what to consider. 

 

Why to Tell Your Boss: 


 1. You Have a Strong Relationship 

Consider the nature of the relationship. A supportive manager – if the relationship is genuine and strong – should be open to the conversation. However, it's important to consider the motivating factors behind the job search before sharing. If the desire to job search stems from issues with the company or management, disclosing this could damage the relationship rather than assist in the search.  

2. To Negotiate Higher Compensation or Benefits 

If job searching is motivated by higher pay or better benefits, this requires a slightly different conversation. Research what is offered at other organizations for similarly skilled professionals, then set a time to talk with management about these compensation or benefit desires and if there is an opportunity to work towards them or something similar. If this is not possible, moving on to an external job search may make more sense, however, it’s important to not dive straight into a conversation about job searching and expect to be met with a counteroffer.  

3. To Access Growth Opportunities 

If wanting a change in responsibilities, consider if a promotion or lateral move within the business would satisfy job-search motivations. If so, a conversation with management about internal opportunities should occur long before disclosing an external job-search. Talk with management about open opportunities, long term career goals, and reasons to be considered for these opportunities. Keep in mind, it's possible there isn't a current role available internally. In that case, management will understand the need to look externally and may even help support job search efforts through letters of recommendation or facilitating connections with the right people.   


Potential Consequences: 


After sharing with management about an ongoing job search, don’t be surprised if they shift their attention to ensure the best opportunities and resources are going towards employees who aren’t on their way out the door.  

Consider how management may react to the conversation. For instance, if they are losing a key player on an already lean team, they may be upset or feel stressed. However, they would also have time to plan for a replacement, which could help ease the transition. Regardless of disclosing the job search or not, managers may still find out. In this case, it is important not to lie if approached about it. Maintaining respect is essential. 

Another potential consequence could be management accepting the conversation as a resignation. Depending on a myriad of factors, they may feel the need to protect sensitive business information or redirect their investment in other team members who are still committed to their role.  


How to Make the Conversation Meaningful: 


Making this conversation productive relies on a strong relationship with management and continued productivity and quality of work. Regardless of the motivation behind sharing, being transparent about the reasons for disclosing the job search is important. If wanting a referral, lead with gratitude, thank management for their support, and discuss how the next opportunity is important for continued development. Prioritize maintaining mutual respect throughout the conversation and ask for a reference only if it seems appropriate.  

While job searching, make sure to maintain the same quality of work to display dedication and trustworthiness and make sure to never bad-mouth or complain about an employer. At the end of the day, managers want to see their people succeed and may play a key role in supporting new opportunities. 

 

Let us be a resource in your job search. See our open roles today. 

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