When is the earliest you would tell your boss that you are job hunting?

The answer for me has always been – when I know for certain I’m leaving. If I applied for a job and didn’t get it, I would never tell my boss.

I’m rethinking that today for several reasons. I’ve found a job opening that, on paper at least, was written for me, and pays about 15% more than what I earn now. First of all, I’m not on a determined “get out of here any way I can” job. The position I’ll apply for is very close to what I described as my dream job in my interview for my current job. It’s a kind of “I owe it to myself to try for it” thing rather than of any deep disatisfaction with where I am now.

Anyway, I told a co-worker (who I trust to keep it confidential) about applying, and she strongly encourage me to tell our boss Liz. She said I owe Liz the courtesy, as she’s gone to bat for me several times. My co-worker also suggested another surprising thing, which is that I should use Liz as a reference.

I’ve never considered using my current boss as a reference for my next prospective job. Not only would know boss learn I was looking elsewhere even if I don’t get the job, it would just seem to be an uncomfortable situation to put her in.

My co-worker, who’s known my boss for 15 years, assures me that Liz will not take this as an insult, or retaliate in any way. She thinks Liz would want to help me get my dream job.


Man, that 2nd to last paragraph is a nightmare. Eh… y’all can probably figure out what I mean.


I would not have told a soul in the first place, but now that you have, I’d start playing the “well, I decided against it” bit. What do you have to gain, really? I mean, really? “Liz” gives you a good reference? Why’s she giving you a good reference, she should be wanting you to stay! Trust your instincts. Wrap it in a bag and throw it away. Nobody needs to know until you have the signed contract in your hand. THEN you can try to get more money from your current job, or move on.

Anyway, am I the only one that played the “I make x amount of money, when I really made x-15%?” Why would you want to enter someone who could disprove this into the scenario? Honesty schmonesty, if you need your current boss to help you get the job you need to stay in the same company. Be tough, be cool, be independent, and most of all, be DISCREET!!! (but now play damage control and start dropping some sort of hints for a VERY GOOD excuse as to why you might need to be out of the office during working hours, because they are ALL watching you now. A Mom with a broken leg is a wonderful excuse for having to leave in a hurry. Got kids? Oops, one is sick at school. Etc. etc. Think man, think, but think ahead.)


I wouldn’t of said anything to anyone. IF I did get the job I would give two weeks and that’s it. You don’t owe them anything. Two week notice is plenty. Want to be gracious? Give a month notice then. What happens if you don’t get the job and your boss knows your job hunting? Or worse, they want you to start training in a new person to fill yours. She might not take it as an insult or retaliate, but she probably is going to try to cover her ass.
This happened to my sister. She told her boss she was applying to a different position but ended up not getting it. So now she is training in her replacement because her boss knows that my sister is intend on leaving.

If you told a coworker, Liz probably already knows by now anyway. Rule #1 at work: don’t tell a coworker ANYTHING that you don’t want the whole company to know.

You don’t owe your boss a heads up. If they’ve been good to you, 2 weeks notice when you accept the other job will suffice.

Take Powers106’s advice and start doing damage control.

At my last company, there were only two of us who did my job, me and my boss. He asked me early on, as a professional courtesy, to let him know if I was going to look elsewhere, to allow time to get another person in and have a changeover. I felt that was reasonable.

So I did let him know I was beginning my search, asking it to be kept in confidence. He told HIS boss, which I felt was appropriate since that guy signed off on job openings, staffing, and all that, and I trusted him (my boss’s boss) to be quiet about it.

Then my boss goes and tells someone in another department. He could never keep his mouth shut, and the person he told could keep a secret if it meant life or death. In a week it is all over the office. They never got in another person to interview until my last few weeks (which was 8 months later).

My advice? Don’t tell until you have the new job.

How is three and a half years?

I recently decided to undergo a career change. I’m going back to college. It will take me 3 1/2 years to finish. But I told not only my boss, but my executive director.

Why? Because I’m pretty valuable to them. Because I’m working on a project that will likely result in twilighting my technology, and I want them to sort of understand that I don’t have a huge conflict of interest there - I’m not intending on managing that technology for much longer than it will take to retire it. Because I know that they will help with my career goal in some fashion - i.e. I’m going to be a CPA and my Director is willing to give me access to more financial systems work, if I and it are available. Because if they give me interesting work, I’ll still pursue the degree, but may not decide to apply it and will stick around. And, because if they do decide I’m not a good long term investment and lay me off, I’ll be a full time student and Brainiac4 can support me for a few years (he’s ok with that).

When’s the earliest I’d tell my boss I was job hunting? When I was handing in my two week’s notice.

I don’t think you owe them any more than that. Besides, if they were thinking of replacing you, or letting you go, how much notice do you think you’d get? Not only that, but I’ve heard and seen too many people get let go before they’ve actually found another job because their employer knows they are looking.

I’ve had bosses who told employees who offered two weeks notice, “If you’re that unhappy, perhaps you should just leave right now.” Boom, that was it. They were out the door. So much for being understanding and supportive.

If you tell your boss that you’re looking for another job, even if it’s a once-in-a-lifetime dream job opportunity, she’ll start looking for someone to fill your position. If you look at it from her supervisor’s perspective, it’s the right thing to do.

I don’t know, I’ve always been open about it when I was keeping an eye out to get a new job. I’ve never had anything bad come of it and gotten some support from bosses that knew I was looking. I’ve even asked bosses if I could use them from references. Of course most of this was years ago since I’ve been with my present company for 16 years, although I have looked in the time I’ve been here and been open about it then also.

“Hi. I’ve accepted a position with another company…”

Leaving a good job:

“and I’d like to give two weeks’ notice. Is there anything I can do to help smooth the transition to me not being here?”

Leaving a bad job:

“I have two weeks’ PTO left over that I’m going to take, starting now, unless you desperately need me to train a replacement.”

Leaving a horrible job:

“Bye.” The advantage of living in an at-will employment state. God knows I’ve been fired with that much notice…

I’ve got a different take on this… I used to work for a small private technical college as an IT instructor. I took the job because the northern colorado market went very soft. They knew when I was hired that I was taking a 60% paycut to join them, but I was taking the job because (1) it would look good on my resume, and (2) it was better than being unemployed for the year I thought it would take for the job market to recover. Because i was inexperienced at teaching, and they were taking a chance on me, I guaranteed that I would stay on staff for 1 academic year.

Around the time that the 1 year committment ended, I was assigned to a committee that was looking at improving academic quality. The sub-group I was assigned to look at instructor retention. By then, the job market was improving, and I had several offers on the table (good money, but would have involved moving away). I submitted a recommendation that the college start paying a competative wage, based on the fact that the college’s mission statement included a phrase that said that they wanted the best skilled workers in the industry to teach the next generation.

My proposal was rejected flat out, with the reply being that the college “does not have to worry about competition from industry due to the soft job market.” I told them right then and there that I would be accepting the next job offer, for whatever from wherever, just to prove my point. Others in my department have joined me.

Bottom line, 6 weeks later, of the 4 employees in the IT academic department, here are the results:

 2  have accepted 100% increases in salary from local fortune 100 companies and have resigned
1 is taking a 6 month sabbatical to be a consultant out of state for a 250% increase in salary
 1 is on sabbatical to obtain his doctorate.

We have been replaced with a former instructor (who left because of burnout) and a part-timer from another department whose prior work experience in IT was on a help desk.

Petty and mean, I know, but from my point of view the college’s response has been entirely Dilbert-esqe – we want the best in the industry, but they also need to be salary-savants. Bottom line, I guess the best time to tell that you’re looking should be based on how well (or badly) you are being treated in your current job,

Sorry for being long winded.

What kind of notice do they give to the employees being asked to leave?

I ask becuase it has become common now to give a worker no notice at all- to just tell them Friday it’s their last day whilst handing them a paycheck and Security is there to escort them out. A major “loss prevention” company has been strongly pushing this for the last decade or so. Note that severance pay can still be given, but no "notice’ at all. :dubious: :rolleyes:

You owe them what they’d give you.

Where do all of you guys work? I donno if it’s the high turnover where I work, or the low pay, or what, but the bosses here encourage us to get “real” jobs; heck, they make it known that they’re looking themselves. Kinda makes you not want to leave…

That happened to me once.

So, to answer the OP. After I’d gotten and accepted another job offer, signed a contract, and had a starting date (which, to be courteous, would be two weeks away. Two weeks notice seems fair.)

If I got a new job, I would get a start date two weeks from now, do a little happy dance, then go back to my desk and write my letter of resignation. No WAY would I tell my boss before then. Even if Liz is the coolest, most compassoinate manager in the world, she’s still a manager and is accountable for the performance of her team. She would probably have to tell her boss, and she would probably have to start looking for somebody to replace you. What if you don’t find another job you like? If they find somebody else first? They can’t keep you both on the payroll, can they?

And if this co-worker is so close to Liz, then there’s no guarantee that Liz doesn’t already know.

Good luck, I hope it works out.

I’m with the majority opinion here. I don’t even tell when I’ve looked for internal transfers.

Don’t expect a reference from your current boss. Many companies have a policy against any employee giving a reference for another one, because of liability issues. Plus, would you really, really trust your boss to give an honest reference?

As for assistance in finding a replacement, how do you know how long that will take vs. how long you will take in finding a job? What happens if they find someone quickly, let you train him or her, and then decide they don’t need you anymore before you find something else? And what if you don’t find something good? Guess who won’t get a nice raise next review time?

It’s just wrong in so many ways.

Just to throw in a different opinion.

I work in the public sector (UK). It’s common practice to use your current boss as a reference. In fact, the application forms for all three positions I’ve had have had a space for two referees and the first is always ‘current employer’. Of course, this could be the personnel dept but more likely than not they’ll forward to your immediate boss anyway.

It’s perhaps a cultural thing. It’s expected that people will move on to bigger and better positions so it isn’t taken personally.

So, as far as that goes, I let my boss know as and when I apply for posts.


What if you are reapplying to a company in a position that you worked for once before, but haven’t heard back in awhile? Can you just go ahead applying for other jobs using that boss as a reference? That seems awkward.

I have a good chance of getting the job once summer is over, but I want one now - so would it be prudent to wait?

Holy crap, you people have had some shitty jobs/bosses!! :frowning:

If your employer has treated you poorly, then I could (maybe) understand not saying a word until you hand in your notice. Otherwise, I can’t understand why you wouldn’t use your current boss as a reference. :confused: It’s only been about 3 years since I was last in the market for a job, and at every single interview I went on they asked if they could contact my current boss for a reference. In fact I wanted them to contact him, because I knew I’d done good work and that the reason I was leaving wasn’t his (or the company’s) fault. Not only that, but around here people get suspicious if you aren’t willing to have them contact your current boss. It looks like you have something to hide.

When I started going on interviews I asked my boss and a project manager if they would be willing to act as references for me, and that’s when they found out I was job hunting. Not only did I want the references, it also just seemed like the right thing to do.