Should I tell my Boss I am Looking for Another Job?

10 Nov 2015 | Naomi Marshall

When the time comes to start looking for another job, one of the difficult decisions you have to make is “When do I tell my boss”? We are often asked when is the best time and the truthful answer is, it is different for every individual and every boss/manager you have.

Legally, you don’t have to tell your boss that you are leaving until you are ready to hand in your resignation and work your notice period (and this will vary depending on your contract, but standard is 4 weeks). Whatever decision you make, we always encourage you to do the right thing by yourself and your employer.

To help make that decision we encourage you to consider below.

What are the reasons for telling your boss early:

You will need to be flexible with your lunch breaks and possibly occasionally starting late or finishing early to attend interviews
Your role may be difficult to replace so you want to give your boss as much time as possible to find a suitable successor
Your boss will need to be your referee for your potential new roles
You have a very open relationship with your boss and you want to be transparent with him or her
You work in an industry where most people know each other and it will likely get back to your boss if you start sending your CV off to competitors
Hiring a replacement may be a costly exercise for your boss (recruitment fees, placing an ad, on-boarding a new staff member), and you want to give him/her as much notice as possible
Your boss may have contacts in the job/company that you are looking to work in and may be able to help you find that next role
In many cases, your boss will appreciate your honesty and hopefully offer to support you as you look for your next career step. There are however times when this won’t happen so you need to be prepared for that as well.

Be prepared:

Your boss may not want to lose you and offer you reasons to stay. This can be great if they are able to address your reasons for leaving. However it can muddy the waters of your decision if you are not 100% sure of what you want so try to really know what you want to do, before you tell your boss.
They choose to reduce your responsibilities and your role is cut back to the bare minimum. They are looking at it from a risk point of view but this is not ideal if you are still in the early days of starting to look for a new job as it will make your days feel very long.
Your boss may take it personally and make it challenging for you at work. This does not happen often, but it is always a risk you should be aware of. Depending on your contract, they may even find a way for you to finish your role prior to you having your next job (again, not likely or legal in many cases but do be aware of this).
You may be put on gardening leave, and asked to finish up immediately. You will be paid for this leave as per the award, however, you might not have the chance to wrap up your projects or say farewell to your colleagues and clients.
When the time comes to look for a new job, it can be great to have already had that conversation with your boss. But it is not always practical, sensible or appropriate. You need to weigh up the reasons for doing it (are there ways around it?) and be prepared for the consequences. More often than not (and certainly when it has happened at Sprint HQ), your boss is able to encourage and support you as you look for your next role and even give you a few tips on areas you could focus on and what your strengths are.
Wishing you all the best as you look to take this next step in your career. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch should you like to chat further about looking for your next job.

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