The difficulties of finding another job when your current employer may be screwing you over

I know that, to people who aren’t employed at all, this must seem to be bitching about a good problem to have. Nevertheless, the person who recently hired me gave me bad vibes.

He phrased some statements in a way that was designed to lead me to believe I was going to get something while leaving himself room to say that he didn’t actually promess it. He never having had the intention of delivering it. He admitted this in one case and in another, it’s obvious. This makes me fearful that my 6 months with him will be full of such bait and switch tactics. I have very little bargaining power in this relationship. I am expendable as far as he’s concerned and I need an employer, any employer of that industry, for the next 6 months.

Having a crappy time with this employer for 6 months is still better than not having a job at all. Even in a worst of case scenario, if I make it through 6 months with him, I’ll be legally allowed to practice my profession and my career will be ok.

But I’m considering jumping ship because I’ve had a similar feeling about other people before and it always turned out very badly for me. I plan to phone other firms and ask them questions. I will also have to be able to receive their invites to interviews and make it to the interviews. Since most potential employers will be at the office at the same time I am working at my employer’s office, this will make phone communications and interview scheduling difficult. How can I do about that?

No, my current employer would not be understanding of my efforts to find another place, especially since the reason I’m thinking about jumping ship is because I doubt his honesty.

It’s not that uncommon to request a potential employer not to contact your current one without a firm job offer. Find some safe professional references from previous jobs or former employees from your current one; or, if there is someone you can absolutely trust to be discreet, someone at your current company.

Lots of people are in this boat. No potential employer wants a lawsuit for costing you your job. I’m not terribly cautious and just use basic precautions, and I’ve never had an employer catch wind that I was looking until I gave notice.

In terms of accepting calls, voice mail is your friend. Surely you can sneak away for breaks or lunches now and again? Take phones in a quiet room or even your car. Try to move conversations to email if this is difficult. Most employers won’t hold it against you to call back on your own time rather than at work; most of us have worked for places that were strict and know the necessity of it.

Interviews can be hard but unless you’re doing a ton of them or work for a really draconian employer, they’re manageable. How do you handle things like appointments at your workplace? At one place I worked, the easiest way was to switch shifts with a night manager (who was aware of the situation) every time I had an interview. At another, I just had appointments that I didn’t care to explain. Most employers are wary of interrogating people about this sort of thing since medical info is none of their business. And there are tons of types of appointments that can really only be done during business hours - I’ve never even had to lie about it. Most people have the need for the doctor, dentist, banker, lawyer, whatever during the day; it’s not suspicious. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for a different time. If you say “Oh, that time isn’t the best for me, is there any possibility of moving it?”, you’re still leaving the door open if the answer is “no”. Then you just say “Okay, I understand, I’ll find a way to make it work.” Usually, there are several windows of time for an interview, though going as soon as possible is usually a good idea.

Generally, being employed during a job search is a good thing. Prospective employers know that calling an employed person and getting voicemail during business hours isn’t any kind of bad indication. Honestly, if you had a company call you who didn’t even exercise common courtesy and some level of understanding of your situation… would you want to work there?

So you need to have a job in this field for 6 months, after which point you will be legally able to practice your profession and then presumably have an easier time making a living?

I’d suck it up and stick around 6 months to get it done, unless the job was daily psychological warfare. Half a year isn’t that long, and if it’s your ticket to a more comfortable future… why not stick it out?

It seems to me that the concern is that if the employer is already being that screwy he wouldn’t mind terminating the OP a week before his requirement is met. That’s a huge risk.

My advice - Cell phone on vibrate w/voice mail, vaguely described appointments for interviews and keep your interview clothes in the car and change. Dressing differently is often a giveaway.

Yeah, I can’t think of anyone I know who told their employer they were actively looking for another job, except for those people who were moving out of the area. Similarly, it’s common enough that my current job has an employment application that everyone has to fill out even if you’re in for a professional position, where you list previous jobs and there’s a box to check if you don’t want them to contact your current employer.

For more precision, he wouldn’t terminate it a week before it’s up.
Since anyone looking back through my threads will be able to figure it out, here’s more details:

I passed the bar recently and to be a lawyer, you need to do 6 months of articling. The article is both a legal requirement and a way for to get practical training.

That training is unlikely to be as useful to me as it would in another firm since it’ll concentrate on areas of the law I have little interest in (I dislike those types of law, the clients often can’t/won’t pay and they tend to be difficult to handle).

My schedule can be unpredictable; at very short notice, I may have to work more than I thought I would.

I always found the hardest part of the job search while employed the fact that you would need to post your resume on various job boards that your current employer’s HR department might access. In my case that is particularly challenging since I have both an unusual name and a somewhat unique set of skills such that even if I didn’t list my name on the resume (some sites let you keep that confidential), any HR person at my company would still know it was me.

In my case, when my last employer decided to screw me over and randomly drop my salary 25% simply because they could given the economy and because my position was not a direct billable one in the defense industry, I had a casual conversation with HR about what sites my company used for recruiting. Then I posted my resume on all BUT those sites. Eventually when we stopped hiring all together and I hated the job even more, I hit up even the sites the company did use. A few months later, I got another job, and to my knowledge, they were never the wiser.

I would take the approach of posting your resume in places your employer is unlikely to look and if you get confronted, you can say that you just “never took your resume down” when they hired you. Of course that will look suspicious when you’ve updated the resume to include your current job…

Thanks. I don’t intend to post my resume though. I will have a phone conversation with people in each firm that might interest me, gather supplementary info about each firm if it’s useful, write a cover letter for each place (I might tailor my resume too as political involvement is an asset for some law firms and a liability for others) then interview with the ones who respond to my mail/email-sent resume. My diffuculty is much more with the fact that calling, receiving calls and interviewing are best done during business hours but during business hours, I’m at my employer’s place. Although I may have a closed office to myself.

My girlfriend is having a similar problem with her shitty employer. I’m pretty sure he’s been breaking labor laws. He won’t let her off of work for any reason whatsoever (not even when she had an abcessed tooth) and she’s required to eat lunch at her workplace, so her finding time to interview is hopeless. She gets no vacation time or days off except for the mandatory two weeks in December. She works for a small snow cone/ice cream distributor. All this while he cuts out at 11AM to go to the Belgian Beer Festival.

I’ve been wanting to call the Dept. of Labor on the bastard for a while, but he would know it was her or me who did it. The other two employees there have worked there for decades.

Two questions:

  1. If you jumped, would you have to do another six months or do you get credit for time served?
  2. What is the job market like these days?
    I’m not asking out of idle curiousity - my son-in-law is in his third year of law school, and will be taking the bar later this year. The Times article on the poor job market got my wife scared.
    Oh, a third question: how badly can you current employer screw you over? I get the impression that the life of a new lawyer is not much fun, so is your current employer really that much worse than normal?

1: I haven’t worked a day yet. I’ve accepted the offer and hung around them a bit. I have to send the paperwork to the bar association within two weeks of starting or risk not having some work recognized. Say, if I send it 4 weeks after starting, the bar might say “too late, we only recognize the last two weeks”.

2: I’m not sure. This is Canada so the economy isn’t in as bad a shape as it is in the US.

3: He can have me spend 6 months on training for tasks that will have little future utility to me when I could be spending it learning about legal areas and tasks that will be useful. Also, there is no job offer after the 6 months are over whereas that’s a possibility in other firms and I get the impression that having done your articling in one firm positions you better to get a job there than having done the articling at another firm.

Unless you have reason to think you’re being monitored, a closed office is fine for phone calls – people will think you’re on an important business-related call! (Which, I guess, you are, in some sense.)

I always interview using vacation days or saying I’m taking unpaid vacation (I’m paid hourly, which I assume you are too, so I wouldn’t charge for that day and put down on the work calendar that I will be out on vacation). If you can possibly schedule interviews for Monday or Friday that will add credibility to this excuse…