Should you tell your boss you are looking for a job?

Here’s a dilemma! You’re looking for another job and you are trying to work out if you should tell your current boss you’re looking. What to do?

Before you jump in head first or do something you will regret, ask yourself some questions first.

What type of relationship do you have with your boss?
Are you able to discuss most job challenges or issues with them?
Would they respect you or want you to have that conversation with them?

A big question to ask yourself is “Do you really want to leave your current role, or do you just want to feel appreciated or get a pay rise”? Let’s face it, sometimes it is just about wanting to feel loved and appreciated for our hard work.

There are many good reasons why you might want to tell your boss, starting with these:

  • Open & honest communication can open new opportunities – perhaps your boss didn’t know you wanted to move up or there might be a position that is being created that you weren’t aware of. Communication is usually a good thing and can lead to new opportunities.
  • It’s an opportunity to update skills for an upcoming position that might be on your radar – your boss might be aware of a role in the pipeline and be able to ‘prep’ you to get first in line, and this could start with some additional training.
  • You have added leverage when it comes to salary reviews – It is less expensive for the business to keep an existing staff member than it is to hire someone new. They probably don’t want to go through the hiring process again as it is costly & time-consuming – use that to your advantage as it’s much better from a company perspective to keep someone than it is to employ a new person for a role.
  • Your boss will see you with fresh eyes and may help you find new opportunities within the company – they are more likely to know about new positions.
  • There is a preference for the new staff member to be trained by the outgoing team member – this bodes well for all involved so get your boss on side.
  • Having this conversation allows them to plan ahead and put a back-up in place if you do leave, allowing them to restaff in a measured and strategic way.
  • Your current boss might provide increased flexibility to allow you to go to job interviews.
  • Never burn bridges – goodwill goes a long way and you never know who in your current company, will move to another company and be making hiring decisions in the future.

There are some drawbacks that you might need to be prepared for though. Consider these:

  • Be prepared to call the bluff if you say you will walk if you don’t get what you want. If you say you’ll leave then don’t (if you don’t get what you want) you will lose all bargain powering in the future, along with your credibility.
  • Your boss may terminate you before you decide to resign. There are laws to protect you and they need to have a legitimate reason so consider making note about all conversations or put these in traceable emails for future proof (if required).
  • Another risk is that your boss may no longer consider you for any promotions as they might not believe you are dedicated. This is where communication is vital, so you can reassure them you are committed to the company, but you just want some new challenges.
  • Your boss might think you will be less productive, cause issues in the team or will put in less effort. Be mindful of changing your attitude and stay positive, even if you hate it.
  • Some employers may respond negatively, which may impact your future at the company. Only you can determine if your manager will respond favourably to your news and if the risk is worth the potential aggravation.

Try and reassure your immediate boss to not take it personally. If you have a good working relationship with your employer, you may feel confident in approaching them about moving on. This is something only you can determine. If you are unsure perhaps talk to another member of staff or someone you trust that can guide you through this process.