Looking beyond your current job for the sake of your career is not disloyal to your employer, according to Ken Glickman. Glickman of East Lansing, Michigan spent 30 years as an executive career counselor and outplacement specialist. "They are looking out for themselves and you are looking out for yourself," he says. "Every employer understands there are times in a person's career when it is time to move on. Everyone has a right to enhance her career."
Sara Menke, founder of a San Francisco staffing firm, told Forbes in 2013 that some hiring managers see being employed as raising your value as a potential candidate. Companies want to hire the best of the best and tend to believe those people are already employed. Andy Teach, a corporate veteran and career book author, also speaking with Forbes, says the unemployed are in a defensive position. They must answer questions about why they're not working. If you're employed, you'll be coming from a position of strength. Career strategist Donald Burns tells CIO.com that many employers may have an outright bias against hiring unemployed applicants.
To Tell or Not
There is no easy answer to the question of should you tell your boss you're job searching. Glickman says that it's a personal decision based largely on your relationship with your boss. Business speaker Michael Kerr, quoted on Forbes.com in 2013, points out that many bosses may see your job search as a betrayal. Careers writer Rich Hein says on CIO.com that keeping your search hidden from your boss may be a necessary evil. However, if your manager confronts yous, don't deny it. Recruiting director Chad Lilly tells CIO.com that being forthright may be your best chance to retain your current job in such a case. Burns added that "as soon as the company discovers you're looking, they will start looking for your replacement. Your job is probably toast."
Doing It Right
Ethics do matter in any job search. Glickman says you should always speak respectfully and in a positive fashion about your current employer, even if you don't feel it. "You do not want to say anything negative about your employer," he says. "You certainly don't want to do anything like revealing trade secrets." Do your job search on your own time and don't use company property, email or computer networks to conduct your hunting. Use voice mail and return calls away from the office. Avoid using social media overtly. It may alert your current employer, and potential employers may see this as a lack of discretion that they don't want.
Unless your current boss knows you're looking, listing her as a reference may backfire badly. Lilly suggests you stick with three solid references from outside work. It could be from past employment, including a past supervisor. It could be someone from any volunteer work you do, or industry contacts such as customers or clients. Teach agrees that using people connected with your current job is risky, particularly if they don't know you're looking. He also stresses the importance of letting your interviewer know that your job search is confidential. Talent management strategist Roy West agrees, and suggests that references should be given only when requested, and even then you should exercise discretion.