How to Deal

Should You Give Full Disclosure When Job Hunting?

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By Lily Garcia
Special to washingtonpost.com
Thursday, January 31, 2008; 12:00 AM

I've been in my current position for over six years, and there isn't an opportunity for advancement. My boss is somewhat distrustful, tends to micromanage and doesn't support new ideas to help improve the work environment.

As a result, I began a job search two months ago. I feel a bit dishonest and secretive, however, because I have not told my boss about my plans to leave. One concern is requesting time off to interview without her knowing what I'm doing. Is it appropriate to inform her of my plans, or do I wait until I have a new position?

In an ideal world, we would all feel comfortable being transparent with our employers about changing career plans. In an ideal world, we could trust that revealing our thoughts and intentions wouldn't result in any sort of reprisal. And that we could negotiate a smooth and agreeable transition that meets our own needs and those of the company.

You can see where I am going with this: If you would not hesitate to let your employer know that you are looking for another job, count yourself among the lucky few. The rest of us need to be more careful about picking our moment, balancing the understandable and admirable desire for honesty with the need for security. Letting your boss know that you are looking may ease your conscience. However, what if she is able to backfill your position before you have another offer? What if her destructive tendencies worsen at the prospect of your departure? If you were to discuss your plans to leave and needing time off to interview, I'd have to guess your boss is unlikely to respond well.

I applaud your sense of propriety, but there is nothing wrong with keeping your plans to yourself unless you are fairly certain that there won't be any consequences. Simply request the time off for a "personal appointment." If your boss presses you about the nature of the appointment, reiterate that it is personal. Most will leave the inquiry at that.

Join Lily Garcia on Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 11 a.m. ET for How to Deal Live.

Lily Garcia has offered employment law and human resources advice to companies of all sizes for 10 years. To submit a question, e-mail hradvice@washingtonpost.com. We reserve the right to edit submitted questions for length and clarity and cannot guarantee that all questions will be answered. The information contained in this column is not intended to be legal advice.


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