Should a manager expect a direct to disclose a job search in one-on-ones? Should a direct feel comfortable disclosing a job search in one-on-ones?

I was reading the "Just lost a direct to the competition" thread, and the original poster expressed surprise that he didn't know this was coming. I've never done a one-on-one -- I have no directs, and I don't have an MT boss.

As a direct, I wouldn't feel comfortable disclosing a job search to anyone at work. Years before hearing the "Confidentiality with Bosses" podcast, I understood that someone would leak the news and that it could cause trouble.

(Though I was in a team meeting many years ago where we discovered we were all looking for new jobs except for the one team member who was expecting to go on maternity leave.)

TomW's picture
Training Badge

Anyone smart has told NO ONE in the company they at which work that they are looking, interviewing, or have an offer.

There's just no reason to share that information until they are leaving.

tplummer's picture

My advice is to never tell your boss if you're looking for other opportunities. I would always state it this way, "I'm always open to new opportunities if you happen to come across anything that you feel I would be suited for." This leaves the door open to new opportunities under your current manager, or perhaps recommended to other positions within your direct organization. This would be such as your bosses boss says they have a new project reporting directly to them and did your boss have any recommendations.

But never say you are looking outside of your current organization. I say that because I've had directs tell me they are looking. What almost always happens, even if its subconscious, I stop "caring". I don't put them in new assignments. I don't think about their long term career goals. Why bother? They'll be gone in 6 months anyway. By telling your boss that you're looking, you're putting your own current career on hold and you better find your next job quick. I think it's just human nature.

Now, in rare instances for a top 10% performer, that might be the wake up call to action. In those cases I might then start looking for better opportunities within my group or sphere of influence. But again this is rare because I'm always taking care of my best talent. But sometimes someone slips through the cracks.

stephenbooth_uk's picture

 I can only think of two situations where it would be reasonable and professional for a direct to discuss their job hunting activities with their manager, layoffs/redundancies and where they are rejecting something (e.g. high profile project or promotion) offered they could not take as a result of their job hunting.

 If it's a layoff/redundancy situation and the direct has already been informed they are to be made redundant or laid off then I think it's reasonable for the direct to discuss their job hunting with their manager, in particular where they believe that their manager might be able to help (e.g. asking their network if they can help).  I also think that it would be unprofessional and unethical for a manager to refuse reasonable assistance without a specific reason.  If you're taking away someone's ability to feed, clothe and house themselves and their family without there being a grievous act on their part (i.e. it's due to legitimate disciplinary or performance management) then I see an ethical duty to provide reasonable assistance and whwre they eventually get a job may be a company where you might want to work or may want as a customer at some point, what professional would pass up the opportunity to have a contact their who is at least not hostile to them.

The second situation may be a bit more contentious.  As I see it if you are being offered a promotion or a high profile project that you will reject or not be able to see to completion because you are job hunting then it would be unprofessional to accept under false pretences and then leave.  If you've just got your resume out and are open to opportunities then you're probably OK to keep quiet.  If you're activiely interviewing (not just following up a 'nibble') then I think you need to tell your boss if they offer you a promotion or a high profile project, but be aware that you've probably marked your card at that point and will be first in line for any layoffs or redundancies and won't get any juicy work.  I also think (and this is where I know I differ from many of my colleagues and former colleagues) that if you know that you'll be leaving or taking a long break from work (sabbatical, maternity/paternity/parental leave &c) for another reason then you should raise this if offered promotion or high profile project work.

On the other hand,  a major job search is unlikely to stay secret for long.  For all you know the person you interviewed with yesterday lives next door to your manager's civil partner's brother and will meet your manager at the brother's BBQ  weekend and will mention that they had interviewed someone from their company and ask your manager if they know you.  One time I went to a weekend interview day (it was a series of individual and group interviews with some group activities thrown in) and discovered that two people from my team at work (who I knew were job hunting but didn't know had applied to this company)  were also there.



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