May 31, 2011

Advantages of Telling the Boss About Your Job Search

Maybe it’s a function of getting older and wiser, or maybe I’m just less interested in monkeying around these days, but I’m finding that being direct with people is better than beating around the bush. When someone invites me to dinner at a place I can’t stand I no longer offer excuses about my heavy workload. Instead I say, "I know you love that place but it just doesn’t do anything for me. Can I take a raincheck for another place some other time?" Maybe that sounds obvious to you, but I was raised in the Midwest and this kind of directness is akin to shouting "No way!" while sticking your fingers in your ears and wagging your tongue at someone. It just isn’t done.

Which, I imagine, is one reason so many of my clients won’t tell their bosses they’re looking for work elsewhere. Locked in our collective Midwest upbringing, many of us would do anything to avoid delivering difficult news. Of course, some people have reason to believe their bosses will be vindictive or even hasten their departure by firing them. Who wouldn’t keep news of a job change private under these circumstances?

Still, upon examination, this turns out not to be a likely outcome in most cases. Like everything else in life, the worry about what might happen is more frightening than the reality of what actually does happens when they have the difficult conversation.

But why have the conversation at all? Why not just slink around as quietly as possible, find the next job and spring the news on your boss? Disregarding how that would feel to your boss, here are five reasons you will benefit by making your search public.

1. You control the message, so your boss and co-workers don’t hear the story from someone else. And they will – no matter how secret you think your search is, it probably isn’t.

2. You can transition out of key tasks more gracefully if the boss knows why you’re holding back.

3. You can use your PTO for interviews without making up stories.

4. You can ask for leads and references from your current team.

5. You can use social networking tools such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to get the search done more efficiently.

And here’s a bonus reason: You’ll maintain better relationships with your colleagues, which will benefit you for your entire career.

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