Should You Tell Your Boss That You Are Looking for a New Job?

Should You Tell Your Boss That You Are Looking for a New Job

Are you thinking of changing jobs/careers?

Wondering whether to tell your boss that you’re thinking of quitting?

At first glance I say no way, never tell your boss anything that could potentially come back to hurt you.

What Your Boss Hears When You Talk About Another Job

Here’s what could be going through your bosses mind when he (or she) hears that you are thinking of moving on:

  • “Oh no, who’s going to finish the project?”
  • “How is this going to affect the teams’ success?”
  • “How am I going to find a replacement?”
  • “How long is it going to take me to train someone new?”
  • “Is there sensitive information this wandering employee (you) might abuse?”
  • “Is this employee (you) going to start stealing all of our business?”
  • “Sweet! This makes my mandatory staff reduction effort easy.”

Those last few thoughts are the ones that could get you fired quickly. If your boss has any reason to fear your potential abuse of company resources or that you might steal business, he would be jeopardizing the company not to let you go as soon as possible.

The fear of being terminated is a good fear to have. Since “looking for a new job” doesn’t necessarily mean “prepared to be without a paycheck for an extended period of time”, I suggest you keep your potential quitting to yourself.

It’s All Business

If you’re worried about burning a bridge or hurting someone’s feelings, it’s time to get over yourself. No one cares. Notice that in my list above I didn’t include, “was it because he didn’t like me?” It’s not personal, it’s business.

There are no promises on either side of the agreement. They could let you go in a heartbeat. Checkout the facts on “at-will” employment. You should feel the same way. You don’t owe the company anything but an honest day’s work.

Two weeks’ notice is also a nice courtesy. But you better be prepared to be escorted out of that office the moment you tell your boss you are looking for a different job. It could be over quickly.

This from user Johnny_93307 over at an answers forum:

“I got fired for looking for another job. My boss asked me if I was looking for another job and I told him yes. He just told me when I clock out thats all he needed me for. He thanked me for working for him and he told me that if I’m going to be looking for another job that he needs too save his a** and thats all he told me.

Johnny learned the hard way. Don’t make the mistake of even hinting to your boss that you might be looking for other work.

  1. Avoid telling co-workers,
  2. definitely don’t search for jobs on your company computer, and
  3. let all recruiter calls go to voicemail.

The only reason I would suggest telling your boss about your situation is if the new job was potentially at your same employer. It’s fine to have a conversation with your boss about “getting a diverse experience” within the company. But you should never signal that outside the company is a possibility.

My Experience of Speaking Too Soon

When I quit my last job I made the mistake of telling my boss earlier than originally planned that I was going to be quitting. I had it all planned out, I was going to tell my boss on Friday that I was quitting and give my two weeks notice. This wasn’t any ordinary two days. The vesting of some company stock was on the line.

On the Wednesday before I was going to give notice my boss told me to book a flight for a three-week business trip overseas. Instead of booking the flight I went ahead and told my boss that I was going to be quitting but that I wanted him to honor my original two week notice which was going to start on Friday so that I could get the stock options.

Long story short, they tried to take those two days from me and I had to plead to the CEO over a last minute email (literally just before being escorted out) to get my two days. He sided with me and I got my two days.

The moral of the story is that I could have avoided a headache by not telling my boss until Friday. I should have just booked my flight and then told him I was quitting on Friday. I could have then cancelled my flight and the company would have to eat the cancellation fee.

Bottom line: I say there is never a time when you should tell your boss that you are looking for a new job. Never quit or tell anyone about your job hunting efforts until you have signed your offer letter with the next employer.

What’s your take? Is there ever a good reason to tell your boss you are looking for a new job?

Avatar About Philip Taylor, CPA

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a CPA, blogger, podcaster, husband, and father of three. PT is also the founder and CEO of the personal finance industry conference and trade show, FinCon.

He created Part-Time Money® back in 2007 to share his advice on money, hold himself accountable (while paying off over $75k in debt), and to meet others passionate about moving toward financial independence.


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  1. Once you have another offer in hand, telling you boss you are looking for another job is a great idea if have talked to your boss previously about how you would like to improve your current position but they have told you to “suck it up”.  If you are a valued employee, you may have some cards to play.  Most companies will not negotiate anything until they find out you’re leaving.  But, also be prepared to be escorted out.  It’s a silly game sometimes.

  2. Avatar FreedomJackson says

    There are no benefits to showing your cards.  Would you tell your boss what plans you made for your wife?  Your boss is at work too.