The Ethics of Job Hunting

By Kenneth Bredemeier
Special to
Friday, May 18, 2007 9:30 AM

Most workers looking to find a new job hope to do so without burning bridges. Certain situations that might cause friction -- finding time for interviews -- can be easy to work around. Others, however, are touchier.

Here's the story of one worker who senses herself in such a situation.

I recently moved from Washington, D.C., to Warrenton, Va., but still work in the city. The commute is exhausting, and I'm looking for a job closer to home. Nothing has materialized yet. My problem is that after three years of asking, my company has finally approved the cost of a training course that is relevant to my current position.

My boss is pressuring me to make travel arrangements now. I really want to take the course, but I anticipate resigning before it starts in four months.

I don't want the company to pay for something that no one will benefit from. I also don't want to sour the office environment by announcing my job search. How should I handle this situation?

This worker's feelings of guilt about getting training that her current company may not fully benefit from are natural, says Sandra Crowe, a conflict resolution consultant who advises organizations on how to handle employment disputes, but there is no need to tip her hand prematurely.

This worker cannot be certain that she'll have another job by the start of the training, says Sandra Crowe, and so she should proceed as normal and enroll in the course.

In the meantime, Crowe says, she should be discreet about her job search. If she needs to talk on the phone with a hiring manager while at work, she should do so on a cell phone and away from co-workers. When scheduling interviews, she should take a day or two off and schedule them within that timeframe. (Calling in sick when you're not is deceitful, says Crowe, and can come back to haunt you if it is found out.)

If the worker leaves the company soon after completing the training, she can truthfully say that she didn't know she was going to be offered another job at the time she agreed to take the class.

Kenneth Bredemeier has six years of experience writing about the workplace. On the Job, a column addressing real worker questions about office relationships, corporate policies and workplace law, is written exclusively for To submit a question, e-mail We reserve the right to edit submitted questions for length and clarity and cannot guarantee that all questions will be answered.

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