Why You Should Tell Your Employer You Are Looking For a New Job
By Joe Issid
Monster Contributing Writer
The era of casual office dress codes has made slipping out for job interviews increasingly difficult. I remember being scheduled for a 1pm interview with a prospective employer years ago and it took me days to come up with a sound strategy on how to escape work, change into my suit and battle the snow to get to the meeting. Once over, I had to retrace my steps and slip back into the office without any trace of where I had been. And let me tell you: it’s not fun trying to get dolled up in a gas station washroom. And you can be sure that all the added stress of such a clandestine operation will surely bleed into your performance during the interview.
Interviewing for a new job while employed can often feel like you are cheating on a partner. All the sneaking around and secret phone calls in storage closets can make most of us feel uneasy. But what’s the alternative? Quit your job before finding another? Insist on interviewing outside of your work hours? What if I told you there was a better alternative that could benefit both you and your employer?
Why the change?
No matter your position, if you are seriously considering looking for a new one, it behooves you to clearly identify the specific reasons for making the change. Before you even entertain the idea of approaching your employer about your desire to change your job, you had best prepare some valid and compelling reasons as to why your personal and/or professional goals are not being met in your current job. As they say, if you can’t convince yourself of something, you will do a lousy job of convincing someone else to help you with it.
It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book: threaten to quit your job unless you get a raise or promotion. Unfortunately, I’ve seen this bluff work time and again and will continue to be an effective negotiation tactic. However, I don’t advocate using terroristic means to achieve professional growth. If you are genuinely in the market for a new position, letting your employer know can potentially open some unexpected doors. When faced with the prospect of losing a valued employee, many employers will look to try to accommodate the needs of said employee; a known and productive resource is always preferable to the unknown. While you may be serious about leaving, don’t rule out the possibility that your employer is serious about keeping you.
The hiring and on-ramping process can be extremely costly to an employer. Not only does recruiting incur a great financial cost, it can take a new resource up to 6 months before they are fully up to speed. Needless to say, the loss of productivity can be quite damaging to a team. But what if your employer was able to comfortably recruit a new candidate and have them trained by the incumbent? By informing your employer of your desire to move on, you are potentially providing them with the opportunity to re-staff the position in a proactive and measured way. In exchange, your employer may permit you increased flexibility to go on job interviews or to take some time off to prepare. Some of the best employers in my career have routinely allowed current employees this measure of freedom. And, let me tell you, this policy is certainly preferable to the alternative.
Throughout your career, people will tell you to never burn any bridges. However, despite your best intentions, some business relationships may sour regardless of how amicable the departure may be. Like a jilted lover, an employer can feel angry to discover that you have been courted by other employers (and these sentiments can intensify if you are moving on to work for a competitor). This may sound unrealistic and petty but I have seen too many business relationships ruined following a seemingly sudden resignation. As an employer, I am not blind to the fact that my employees may be looking elsewhere; it is unrealistic to assume that it doesn’t happen. I just want to be in the best possible position to respond to this eventuality and I will certainly appreciate the employee who approaches me first. Being this kind of employer will have a very positive impact on all employees – both present and future.
Of course, there is a (potentially high) risk involved in approaching your employer about a job change. Some employers will respond negatively, which may impact your future at the company (whether you have found a new job or not). Only you can determine if your manager will respond favorably to your news and if the risk is worth the potential aggravation. However, if you have fostered a good working relationship with your employer, you may feel confident in approaching them about moving on. And you may be surprised to discover that you have more options than you imagined.