What to do if your boss finds out you’re interviewing

Looking for a new job while you’re still working can be a balancing act for sure. Not only do you have manage your current job responsibilities, there’s also time needed to research jobs, send out queries and respond to job postings, network and of course interview.

If your current boss discovers you’re looking to jump ship, experts say there are professional ways to respond and react. Here are some pro tips to handle this situation with professionalism.

Agree to a sit-down if they ask

If your boss finds out that you’re looking for a new job, they’ll probably want to meet with you to find out why you’re job-hunting. “Assuming that you’re a responsible employee with a good performance record, they’ll want to see if there’s anything they can do to get you to stay,” says Ellen Mullarkey, vice president, Business Development with Messina Staffing.

Be forthcoming about why you’re job-hunting

Mullarkey says to be honest with your boss about why you’re looking around. “If your salary isn’t cutting it, let them know,” she says. “If you need a better benefits package and you think you can find it elsewhere, tell them. Their learning about your job search could prompt them to offer you better compensation or improve their insurance packages.” But, be prepared for a frank response, she says. “If it’s not possible to increase your salary, they’re going to tell you. You should be honest with them in return.”

This type of thing happens a lot, says Mullarkey, and managers understand that employees have to move on at some point. “As long as you give your manager ample time to find a replacement,
it’s not a problem,” she continues. “So if you’re ‘caught’ looking for another job, don’t panic. No one is going to be mad at you, and you may be able to use it as an opportunity to improve your situation without having to leave the company.”

Remain a productive employee

If your boss finds out you are looking for a new job, keep acting professionally, kindly and get everything you need to get done finished, says business coach Stacy Caprio. “If you start being rude and stop doing your job, your boss will likely fire you even before they are able to find a replacement,” Caprio says. But, understand that once you reveal you’re leaving your boss’ priority will be to fill your role. Says Caprio: “Once your boss finds out you are already looking, you should start looking more seriously and interviewing more at other places so you can actually find a new job so you have one in case your boss finds a replacement for you earlier than you had originally prepared for.”