Should I tell my boss I'm looking elsewhere?

I need some job advice. Since 2002 I’ve been the computer guy in a small company that hasn’t thrived since I’ve been here. (No, it’s not my fault, smartasses.) When I arrived I was given a base salary and promised regular increases on a quarterly schedule for the first year I was here.

About nine months after I got here, I was ushered into the VP’s office. He laid it on the line: the company was struggling and instead of layoffs, he and the President decided on salary cuts. My salary was to be reduced to the level it was when I arrived, until further notice. I confirmed that this happened with other workers, and in any case this is a small company with lots of long-time employees, so I doubt strongly that they would lie. Also, in my job I’m able to see the numbers behind the financial picture and can confirm that the situation was dicey.

Since then the company has somewhat recovered, although we’re not yet thriving.

In April, my family grew by one. I’m being squeezed by new day care expenses, to say nothing of increased health-care costs, and there were some other unexpected expenses that I’ve needed to cover. The bottom line is that I need more money, and I’ve spruced up my resume and sent it out (no hits yet).

SO: do I tell my boss that I’m looking for a new job? We have a good relationship, she bought me a mocha last Friday. She doesn’t really understand too much about computers, so I get a lot of latitude. (Which I squander on this message board.) In terms of leverage, I’ve received some training on our financial software that nobody else in the company has, but unfortunately isn’t too useful elsewhere. The job is in the city where I live, so my commute is 10 minutes long, and I’m able to get to daycare quickly if there’s a problem. And it’s not like the job is stressful, aside from the problems that always seem to crop up on my days off. Careerwise, I don’t really have an overarching plan; I am not overly burdened with ambition. I’m mildly satisfied with this gig, and I’m unable to envision anything much better.

What I’m skittish about are two things. First, after I was hired another guy came in to take over another department. (He, like myself, were the only people in our departments.) He works here for three months, goes into the VP’s office, says “I’ve done this this and this and I want a raise or I’m walking.” The VP replies, “See ya!” without blinking.

So they’re not too receptive to playing hardball.

Second, I got this job in January of 2002, after being unemployed for three months. I had a mortgage and my wife was pregnant with our first child and I spent most days freaking out. This was the only interview I got in those three months, and I beat out 50 other applicants to get this gig. And the job requires me to be a utility player, taking care of a number of areas like desktop support, telecom, servers, and software support.

So I’m a generalist in a time when specialists get the big bucks, and I’m not totally convinced I’ll even be able to turn up another job that offers such side benefits. Like I said, I haven’t gotten any hits yet on the resume.

What say you, dopers? Do I tell my boss, “Hey, you should know I have my resume out”? I haven’t asked her yet simply about getting my salary restored. They probably won’t do it just because I ask nicely, I think I need more ammo. So the conversation might end up with me having to tell her I’m looking elsewhere, which is the question that begat this whole thread. Any other ideas on what I could say or do?

Do NOT say anything to your boss until you have another job lined up. At best they will think of you as an unloyal employee, and at worst you could wind up on the street that same day with no safety net.

AFTER you have the new job give your two weeks notice. If they want you badly enough they can make a counter-offer which you can either accept or reject, but at that point YOU are in the driver’s seat.

What FatBaldGuy said. Even though it would seem to be a courteous thing to do, it NEVER works out well. I wouldn’t even ask about getting the salary restored until you have another job in your pocket.

Don’t say a darned thing. Go out, find another job, then give ‘em two weeks’ notice. Or maybe not, depending on how well you get along with your boss.

You tell them you’re looking for another job, you’re going to find yourself out of your current one right away.

It sounds like these people may be fair, but they “play hardball” (per your note) and it’s doubtful they would receive the new of your looking elsewhere graciously. Keep quiet. You tell them you’re looking and you might be escorted out of the building.

Did I mention that I, and I alone, know all the passwords? :slight_smile: That just occurred to me.

Another way of looking at it: how much advance notice did they give you for the cut in pay/lack of raises? Probably none, right? They didn’t say, “We’re thinking of cutting you back to you starting salary in three or four months; just thought you’d like to know.”

Do not tell them anything until you have a signed offer from somewhere else. If you want to stay on “good” terms, let them know you’re open for a counteroffer, but it sounds like it’d have to be particularly spectacular to be worth staying. It’s nice that they didn’t lay people off, though…

Don’t ever let this question enter your head again for the rest of your life. The answer is always not to say anything.

I wouldn’t accept a counteroffer if I were you. The company sounds shaky, so how do you know it will be around in a year or so? If you get an offer elsewhere, accept it, give two weeks notice and leave after that. Make sure to document everything you can (especially passwords) to make things easier for your replacement. You’ll probably run across someone from your current company in the future (even if the company fails, they will all be working somewhere else), and you want them to remember you well.

I didn’t even read the thread.

Never, ever tell your boss you’re floating your resume.

Oh, and now that I’ve read the thread… they can reset the passwords. You’re barely a blip on their radar. Just find another gig and give two weeks’ notice, but be prepared to be asked to leave right then. Always clean out your workspace and take all your personal stuff home before you give notice. You never know when an employer will say, “Well, thanks for the notice, but you can leave right now.” It happens. And when you do interviews, ask for and get approved vacation time or sick time or whatever you have to do to not make it obvious you’re looking. Go to the “dentist”… a lot. :wink:

I dunno what to say. I usually tell my boss I’m looking (if I am, indeed, looking.) But most of those times, I was friends with my boss…

No, no, noooooo! Don’t tell your boss you’re looking! As tempting as it is to think that it may pressure them into trying to keep you, it never works that way. Instead, they stop trying to keep you happy since you’re already thinking about leaving. Even worse: you think they’ll be worrying about how they’ll get along without you–in the meantime, they’re planning how they will manage without you! You never want that!

**Airblairxxx ** ,
Never reveal that you are shopping yourself on the job market unless you are prepared to leave at any time. I see that you are in California, which is an at-will employment state. At any time, for any reason, you can be terminated. And vice versa, you can leave at any time (two week’s notice is a courtesy, not a requirement). I’ve been in your situation many times and it’s best to keep things secret until you have another job all lined up.

Oh, sometimes it does. Twice I’ve left jobs giving more than six months notice that I was leaving. In both cases I worked through the remaining time and parted ways with the company amicably.

I think it turned out okay for a couple of reasons:

  • In both cases I was quite clear that I wasn’t leaving because of dissatisfaction with the company. The first time I quit to return to grad school. The second time because my wife accepted a job in another state. So it was very obvious that I wasn’t just angling for a raise.

  • In both cases I was a key player in the company. Replacing me was possible, but not trivial. The fact that I gave my bosses a few months to find and train my replacement was welcomed.


Regardless of looking for other jobs, why don’t you ask for getting your salary restored? Having an extra mouth to feed is a good reason.

Well, this is as close to a consensus as I’ve seen on the 'Dope. Sorta makes me feel like an idiot for asking the question. But in my defense I thought it was a judgement call, and I also wanted to make it clear that if I have to have a job, I kinda like this one.

Quartz, I think I’ll take you up on your suggestion. I don’t think there’s much risk in them booting me out for that; it’s essentially like asking for a raise, and last I checked that was hardly a mortal sin.
And I do have some leverage . . . no, let’s just say there is incentive for them to retain me–this isn’t a very computer-savvy office, my boss gets concerned when I take a day off. Like I said, I DO know all the passwords, and I alone know how the entire network ecosystem was set up, and I do have that extra training that nobody else has . . . I just have to remember to practice my evil laugh with the office door closed.


I’d add that a lot of people say to never accept a counter-offer. The company knows your disloyal and willing to leave at that point, and you may find yourself kept on just long enough for them to find a replacement…

Good luck! I just did the “get fed up; find a new job; give notice” thing myself. 8 days to go with my current employer…

Just to add to the consensus, never let a current employer know you’re looking. You might have the best relationship in the world with your supervisor/boss, but you are still an employee, there is no loyalty in the world of business, and expecting any can get you badly burnt. Do what is best for you at all times - lord knows most businesses do.

ditto what everyone else is saying about not talking. That said, I’ve had staff give me more time when they left, and it was nice. I generally have good relationships with my staff and go out of my way to protect them from the evil upper management, so it’s different than most cases, I think. I even pushed through a raise for a woman who let me know that she was quitting an a couple of months to go back to school. I argued that we would have given the raise to her had we not known that she was quitting, and having that much notice made it that much easier to document everything she knew.

Don’t discount talking to the VP about getting the salary increases back. Don’t frame it as a “do this or I walk” (I hate blackmail too, I’d tell you to not let the door hit your ass on the way out) but rather on the principle of fairness. You were hired on one promise, the company conditions deteriorated and rather than let some people go, they cut salaries. Now that the company is starting to get somewhat better, what is the plan? Can they restore people’s salaries? Give a one-time bonus? I think it’s only fair for them to level with you on their long term thoughts.

Good luck