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Does looking for a job make you feel grubby?

It is a fact of life that, sometimes, while in full-time employment, you find yourself looking for a new job. The advent of social media, particularly the recent announcement that Facebook is launching its own jobsite, means keeping your ambitions secret is increasingly awkward.

Trying to find a new job can be stressful; you probably don’t want your current boss to find out you are thinking of jumping ship, but you need to send out the appropriate smoke signals to potential employers and business contacts. It’s a minefield out there.

If you hear rumours of redundancies, or you have outgrown your current job, it is perfectly acceptable to look elsewhere, but probably best not to let your boss know. One former colleague said to me: “I know plenty of people who are looking for and finding work, but the problem is the lies you have to tell.”

Most employers choose to conduct interviews during the working day and my ex-colleague said she had five interviews, at different companies, within the space of two weeks. For the first one, she took a day’s holiday, for the second she feigned illness, the third was a dental appointment and by the time of her fifth interview she felt she was leading a double life.

She said: “It’s horrible having to lie to your boss and colleagues, but I guess it’s a necessary evil.” Well is it?

I think more job interviews could be conducted after work, or over lunch, but if an interviewer is seeing a lot of candidates, it can become pretty much a full-time job, and so interviews normally need to be conducted during the traditional working day.

So, to avoid feelings of subterfuge and guilt, it is best to go to interviews on your own time, rather than sneaking off for fake meetings or doctors’ appointments, to do it without cheating on your current employer. With an eagle-eyed, micro-managing boss, you’ll have to take holiday or personal time. If your CV, or LinkedIn profile is so good that you are continually being offered interviews and you don’t want to use up all your holiday entitlement, it’s probably best to invent a sick relative, but that always feels a bit like tempting fate.

If you are sure you want to change jobs, it is sometimes worth considering internal options, which makes the whole process much easier. Sometimes the grass isn’t always greener on the other side and many people decide to leave their current company without even thinking about the possibility of a different department, location, or even country, within their current setup.

If you are taking your search outside, it might be worth coming clean with your current boss. It’s never nice to hear one of your employees wants to leave (unless you want them to, obviously), but a good boss, at this stage, should talk with you about your reasons why and your options; perhaps make internal recommendations and a great boss may facilitate the process, giving you external contacts and suggestions, and in return for your honesty, giving you some time off to attend interviews.

Howevever, you will probably already know your boss will react quite badly to the news of your imminent departure and make it as difficult for you as possible, throwing the worst projects in your direction, making it awkward for you to go to interviews, or give you a poor reference. With this type of boss, do not mention your job search until you have confirmed your new position.

Sometimes a company will make a counter offer to someone who says they are leaving, but these tend to be vague promises of more money, responsibilty, or future promotion. Quite frequently the trust has already been lost and, in most cases where someone accepts a counter offer, they soon end up leaving or getting fired anyway; never a brilliant career decision.

Also, if you do leave, remember to do so on good terms.

Like I said, looking for a new job is a fact of life, but a minefield that can leave you feeling slightly professionally grubby and compromised.

Nigel Phillips

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