Should you tell your boss you’re looking for a new job? This article is explained in the context of sales, but it can be applied to any profession. Let’s dig in.
Opportunities seem to be everywhere. Your friends and colleagues are leveling up, and you’re starting to feel like it’s YOUR time to do the same.
One question always arises: should you tell your current employer or boss that you’re looking for a new position?
Let’s look at the Pros & Cons of both sides of the question…
Your current boss is actually a close friend.
Is your relationship with your boss good? Can it handle something like this? Oftentimes we have developed deep positive relationships with our boss. He/she has trained us, gone to bat for us when things are wrong, and been a mentor for our careers. It would feel like betrayal to go behind his/her back.
Mary would have never started her Real Estate Sales career without the assistance of her boss, Mark, who recognized aspects of her personality that he thought were “sales” material. The thought of even talking with a recruiter seemed like plunging a knife into Mark’s back.
Your network is everything, but you don’t want this to damage the relationship. Your boss is nice to you, but that’s how she acts to everyone who works there. Be mindful, however, that this doesn’t mean you need to tell her everything.
Richard really enjoyed working closely with his boss, Nick, and they even enjoyed a relationship outside of work. Three years into the position, Richard became bored and jumped on a new opportunity when it came along. There was a point at which he thought about telling Nick, but since there was no other position in the company that could reignite his interest, Richard gave his two weeks with little explanation. Three years later, he has no regrets and even sees Nick as a friend.
Your boss might be an ally and help you find something that fits.
It costs so much time and money to hire and train a new employee, so your boss will be grateful if you are honest.
He/she may even help you find something at your current business that is more in line with what you’re seeking.
So many people just quit, so you will appear different and unique by doing sharing your needs in respectful way.
Even if you are fired, you will come out looking better for your honesty. You won’t use the company’s time or resources to look for new opportunity.
Your boss will respect your honesty and reward it.
Danny was an excellent AE. He hit his sales quota every month, but his work was unfulfilling.
He constantly watched the clock and dreaded each Monday. When he unexpectedly got a chance to train the new hires, Danny was excited about work for the first time.
He approached his boss, whom he considered a close ally, with a plan to split his day into part AE/part sales trainer.
His boss, who was initially reluctant, realized that Danny was not fulfilled and if he didn’t give him this opportunity, he would leave to find it elsewhere.
If you stay in the same field, you are in direct competition with your old company. Going head-to-head with the people who gave you a start in a particular field is troubling.
Linda wouldn’t even be in this line of work, had her boss, Tammy, not seen something in her and pushed her hard. She was on the bottom rankings for months, but Tammy still believed in her. When the recruiter reached out, Linda was flattered but made it clear that she would never go head-to-head with Tammy’s company. She eventually found another line of work she liked better that didn’t conflict with her loyalty.
It’s not about the job, it’s about the culture.
Sometimes our desire to leave has nothing to do with the boss. Rather, it’s a toxic company culture that is pushing us to go. It might be the line of work itself or our fellow workers. Whatever the cause, work is no longer fulfilling. We just aren’t enjoying work, so we know we need a change.
We can’t change company culture. We can either adapt or leave.
When Pete first started at Company XYZ, he loved the loud sales floor and all of the chaos that was his job. As time went on, this kind of work drained him.
After visiting his friend’s job, where the sales floor was silent, that seemed like a better fit for him. He thought about approaching his current boss about a shift in his position; however, there was not a position that wasn’t directly involved with the loud floor except for accounting. Pete knew he would have to leave.
As nice as his boss was, Pete knew that his boss thought this was the only way to run a sales floor. He had trained this way, run his floor the very same way, and was resistant to any changes. Pete applied for the new job and left his current position without any guilt. He is two years into his new position, which he loves.
Company culture is something we learn to adapt to, and it’s a chance for growth.
Nora was always the quiet one, so FinTech was a hard place for her initially — especially with a loud sales floor and a bell that rang after each sale. She thought about quitting, but the pay was too good. After a few months of ringing that bell herself, something shifted inside of her, and now Nora is an A-Player that loves the loud atmosphere and has fully embraced the ruckus attitude.
Some people don’t handle this kind of rejection well.
Your “secrecy” might be your best weapon. Some people feel their current boss hasn’t earned their loyalty or the right to know the “truth” about the way they feel about their job.
Has your current boss earned the “truth”? Perhaps the company culture is such that even a new position with the current company will not be satisfactory.
You would tell the boss you are dissatisfied and looking for something new, but they will just punish you for honesty.
Laura had seen her boss not handle job dissatisfaction in her coworker very well. “Don’t let the door hit you in the backside,” was a constant refrain. He was the kind of boss who you were either with or against. Laura had been dissatisfied for a year now, but there was never anything better on the horizon. When a new job opportunity materialized unexpectedly, she naturally jumped on it.
Even if the boss yells and doesn’t handle it well, you have to be honest.
Clint wanted to move up to AE from his current SDR position, but he knew that his boss would just tell him it was too early. When the recruiter called and sent him the AE job offer, Clint confidently showed his boss. Fireworks and slammed doors ensued, but Clint knew that his boss knew that Clint would one day be an AE.
Honesty won’t work because the boss can’t hear you.
It has been said that running a business is like attending to a screaming baby. Your career is more than your job; it is your livelihood. A good boss can see you beyond your current position. She can see where you need to be.
They say telling the truth to someone who can’t hear it is like telling them a lie.
Mark loved his boss, but every time he approached her about moving up, or learning new skills, she waved him away saying, “You are my best SDR.” Mark believed her, but the thought of being an SDR in two years made him sick to his stomach. He knew he could, and would, make an excellent AE. When a recruiter finally approached him, Mark scheduled a sick day to meet. “I got the job, and quit with no notice and no regrets,” he remembers, “This is not just a job; this is my career.”
You would like to be able to use this job as reference, but if you just quit, that will never happen.
Jen was stuck in her sales job, never in the top rankings, but never in the bottom. She knew just leaving would mean that her dream of working for X Company would never happen. She decided to stay and push harder for high rankings. It took several years, but she proud of her decision to stick it out.
Conclusion: Should You Tell Your Boss You’re Looking For A New Job?
It is a moral and personal decision whether to tell the boss you are looking for a new job. Some people will have regrets while others have none. Either way, it is a decision we make and then live with for the better – or worse – of our careers.