Even when your job hunting is supposed to be discreet, employers often find out when their employees are searching for a job elsewhere. Suppose you’ve been looking for a job, thinking that your current employer has no clue about it, but then your boss invites you for a one-on-one and asks you if you’re interviewing elsewhere – what do you do? You might be thinking how your boss knows about your secret job search, maybe your colleague accidently let the cat out (that happens a lot), maybe your boss knew the interviewer who interviewed you yesterday (it’s a small world), or maybe you just forgot your resume on the office printer (Seriously?). Instead of gawking at your boss with eyes wide open, here are some ways in which you can handle the situation when you’re caught job searching. I know it would be a difficult situation to tackle, but there are better ways to respond in such situation than to say something that would cost you your job. If your boss finds out you’re job hunting, you are left with a few options. Pick one of the following:
Option 1: Lie (Recommendation level – 1/10)
So your boss confronts you and what do you say – “What are you talking about? I love working here and would never leave this company.” This might seem like the easy way out, but what if you would be leaving your job in few weeks? You might require your boss to act as your reference for the new job, so saying some version of that won’t help you in any manner.
Option 2: Act as a sidekick (Recommendation level – 3/10)
When you boss asks you if you are searching for a job, you reply with “No, actually my friend is searching for a job, so I’m just helping her out.” That doesn’t sound so convincing but you can still say that if you desperately want to keep your job hunt a secret. And then when you get a job and need to resign, you can say “Remember how I was helping my friend find a job? Guess what? In the process, I found a great job for myself!” Good luck with that!
Option 3: The Semi-Truth (Recommendation level – 5/10)
If your boss just found out about your job search as he found a bunch of job descriptions printed out on your desk, you can get away by saying a semi-truth. You can just say that as your performance review was near, you were looking through the job descriptions of some senior positions at different companies so that you can improve your work at your current organization. This might also work well if you were caught job searching using your work computer.
Option 4: Truth (Recommendation level -10/10)
You need to be honest (not brutally honest) with your boss and tell him the real reason why you are looking for a job elsewhere (unless you are looking for a change because you hate your boss). If you want a faster career growth, let your boss know, if you are changing career field, let your boss know, if you have a family issue, let your boss know, if you have a workplace issue, let your boss know (unless it’s him). Knowing the real reason will help your boss to understand your situation better and can probably help him come up with a possible solution. A lot of people have received counter offers when their boss came to know about their job search. Happy job hunting!