This is a question that comes up periodically when I’m teaching my “Applying for a Job Online” class here at the library. How you deal with your current employer and co-workers as you look for a new position can be a tricky situation. Brian Moore was short, sweet, and to the point in yesterday’s New York Post (2 April 2012, page 33). In his title “Mum’s the Word“, he sums up the first of his seven rules — Keep Quiet. You don’t tell anyone where you work that you are looking, not your boss nor any of your co-workers, unless you have someone you know you can completely trust. It’s a good way to either get fired or get sabotaged. If your boss is as unhappy with you as you are with your job, it’s a nice excuse to replace you. Also taking on an attitude like our friend in the picture telegraphs the “I am out of here as soon as possible” message just as much as telling your boss outright. And it won’t win friends among your co-workers either.
I am very lucky and very unusual in that I love my job and the place I work and have been able to stay here for twenty six years and counting. However, at one point in my past, I learned the hard way that I had to go around my boss. I told him I was looking for another job and asked him for a recommendation. He seemed fine with it. Then I noticed a funny thing happening. I had some great interviews. The only thing left to clinch the deal was checking my references. It was always at that point that I got my rejection notice. I suspected what was going on and asked the head of another department, who knew my work well, for a recommendation and used him in place of my boss. I got the second job I applied for after I switched up my references. When I went to tell my boss I had another position, he did not look happy and the first thing he said to me was “Nobody contacted me.” Brian Moore is absolutely right. Keep quiet. Your future boss will understand.
This leads me into another major rule. Never at any point disparage your current employer or your fellow co-workers either as you are working on your exit strategy or after you land your new job. Always put a positive spin on why you are looking for work elsewhere, both in your resume and interviews. If you start bad mouthing your boss or co-workers, it will give the people checking you out second thoughts about hiring you. It does not make you look good. Also, unless you are a psychic, you do not know what the future holds. Five years down the line one of your co-workers may be in a position to hire you for your dream job. If you left them on good terms or bad will make all the difference.
There is a lot of common sense advice in this article and I would strongly advise that you check out all of Mr. Moore’s rules. They could actually help you get a job, now and in the future. Just click on “Mum’s the Word.” You also might want to make a practice of checking out the New York Post online on Mondays. The material in their @Work section, whether it’s the cover story, their Q&A Career Coach (Gregory Giangrande) or other job search related material they add from time to time, has been of tremendous help to me from the point I took over this blog two and a half years ago. And I’m not even looking for a job. Imagine what it could do for you.