Job Search | What To Do If Your Manager Finds Out You Are Looking for Job |

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You are invited into your boss’ office, S/he asks “are you looking for a job?” What do you do?

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The question I want to address that is, what do you do if your manager finds that you're looking for a job?
You know, years ago, when I was a rookie, and I was working in an agency, I remember the time that the owner brought one of the sales people into his office, because he left his resume in the copier. Whoo, horrible thing! And that was how it would happen years ago. Today, it's a little bit more subtle. You may have inadvertently posted something on LinkedIn, or a friend of his at another organization may have called him or her and let them know that you were looking for job. He recognized / she recognized the firm or it's there, call them up and said, "Hey, do you know so and so?"
I know it's not supposed to happen that way, but it does. That's the reality to it. Now, you're being confronted. Now the good news is like that episode I discussed from early in my career in search, it doesn't happen tend to happen in front of other people. But the reality is, they got you. They got you and the notion that you can lie your way out of this is absolutely ridiculous. They know it. They've got the proof, or they've heard the phone call from someone that they know. So what do you do?
The answer starts off with don't lie. You're caught.
"Yeah, I'm looking for something else," which invariably follows up with, "but why?" It is kind of like the spouse who has been caught cheating. You know, they want to know what the issue is for you. And you have to speak calmly. So once you've acknowledged it, and you hear the "why question," I want you to take a deep breath and say, "so, you know, I've been frustrated here for a long time." And just calmly speak with them about what your issues are. And I'm not going to tell you that they're going to resolve them, because they may not. They may say, "you know, this is the way we work and if you don't like it here, you can certainly go".
"I'm not prepared to go. " At which point, you can continue by saying, "you know, my intention is to continue doing good work and, you know, if things change, I'm happy to stay but in the meantime, I am exploring other things." Notice. I'm speaking very calmly with this person.
Now, if they choose to fire you indicated you want a letter of termination so this way you have documentation that you were fired; you didn't resign. You were fired. If you're in the process of talking about your issues, I want you to be able to support your case and, in this way, talk about specific stories.
"Now, there was this time not long ago where . . . it's almost like, there's a storytelling model that I teach with the acronym of SOAR-- situation, objective, action, results.
So, there was a situation you gave me to work on, where I started addressing it and, out of the blue, you came in and just took it back from me. . . . and you did it in front of a bunch of people. The result of this wound up being and you talk about what happened to you. What the impact was.
Notice how I'm calmly speaking about this. I know there are people that I coach, where they and their boss sometimes have a misunderstanding or there's a misinterpretation of what is going on. They listen very carefully and they go, "thank you. That completely resolves what my concern is," and they're able to move on.
If that happens for you, do that. By all means, indicate that it's all resolved and you're not going anywhere. But the one thing not to do is to get into an argument. You do not get into an argument with someone who can either pave the way for improvement for you or make it smoother for you on your way out the door. You have a reference that you're looking at, right opposite you that you're going to want to use in the future. And a negative reference can be problematic. Yes, there are obviously ways that can work to get around this person and provide others with a reference.
But, fundamentally, if one of the issues is, "You know, I need to spend more time with my family. I'm working 90 hours a week here, right? I just don't see them. I've got a three year old at home. I am a single parent, my mom has been helping me." You know, you talk about the stories and say, "This isn't what I signed up for and I respect that this is the way you want me to work. But this isn't what I expected. So I'm looking at other alternatives.
"Do you want to leave now?"
"I don't want to quit but, at the same time, I can't afford to quit. But at the same time, I want to explore other options." Notice, very calm, very sincere, very heartfelt.
You always want to maintain that calm. You always want to maintain that concern. And you always want to be respectful of the other person, just like you want to be treated with respect as well.
So, again, a lot of different ways to approach this but it all starts off with the truth and then calmly stating what's going on for you so that they get it. I hope you found this helpful. I hope you don't experience this.


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1400 episodes and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice.” He is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council. “No BS JobSearch Advice Radio” was recently named a Top 10 podcast for job search. was also recently named a Top 10 YouTube channel for job search.

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Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

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