Dear Tamara:

I want to find a new job and I don’t know if I should tell my boss that I am looking. On one hand I would like to use him as a reference and possibly get a recommendation. On the other hand, I do not want to create a hostile working environment. I am afraid my boss will try to replace me or use the information against me in some way. Should I just wait until I find a new position and then turn in my two week notice?

Disgruntled Employee

Dear Disgruntled:

Having spent many years in management, I personally like to know when an employees is unhappy with their position and/or working conditions. There may be something I or the company can do to better the environment and save the working relationship. If in fact an employee decides to move on and pursue another opportunity that better suits them, I appreciate as much advance notice as possible so that I can make the appropriate arrangements to redistribute their responsibilities or find a replacement.

But I ultimately think how you handle the situation depends on your working environment, the nature of your job, and your relationship with your boss. Unfortunately many employees, for many different reasons, do not communicate their unhappiness. They hold everything in until they either explode or just can’t take it anymore. Then finding a new job becomes their only alternative.

I was taught to never burn bridges because you never know when you might have to cross them again. It is okay to find a new job or pursue other opportunities to advance your career, but I think there is a “right way” to do it and a “professional protocol” that should be followed. And you are right, a recommendation from your boss would be ideal, especially if you spent years with a company and have made major contributions. If you are really ready to move on, I encourage you to talk with your boss. Let him know your intentions. I don’t know what type of position you are looking for, but the world is a small place and news travels fast. You don’t know who might review or share your resume. I think your current employer will appreciate your honesty and may even be helpful to you and your search. If you are a good employee, the company  may be willing to sweeten the pot (pay raise, added responsibilities, promotion) in an effort to keep you on board.

Now if you believe that telling your boss will create a hostile working environment, then I suggest you at least follow professional protocol and give your employer proper notice once you find a new position.


Author of the upcoming book Been There Done That: And Lived to Tell About It, Tamara R. Allen is Your Advice Guru giving REAL advice from REAL experience. Email your questions to [email protected]. You can follow Tamara on twitter @tamararallen or check out her daily column and archives at www.tamararallen.com.