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Can I Get Fired If My Boss Finds Out I'm Job Hunting?

Forbes logo Forbes 21/10/2017 Liz Ryan, Contributor

Dear Liz,

I am about to start my first stealth job search. I really need to get out of my toxic workplace.

My boss is the reason I’m going to start looking.

My concern is that if my boss hears I’m job hunting, he might fire me on the spot.

Can that happen? If he asks me if I’m job-hunting, what should I say?

Thanks,

Troy

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Dear Troy,

In the U.S. you can get fired for job hunting or pretty much any reason as long as you are not fired for a discriminatory reason — and as long as you are not covered by an individual employment contract or a group contract, like a collecting bargaining agreement.

So in general yes, you can get fired if your boss finds out you’re job hunting. However, in my experience many people worry more than they need to about this issue. They are afraid that just by applying for open jobs, somehow their boss will catch wind of their departure plans.

That is pretty unlikely, unless you are applying for jobs in a very small industry where everybody knows everybody else.

You have to be sure to alert every recruiter and hiring manager you interact with on the job hunt that your job search is confidential. Don’t announce your job-hunting status on LinkedIn.

Don’t send out any blast email announcements about your job search to your friends. Somebody might be careless and forward your message to everyone they know.

Don’t go to job fairs and talk to recruiters out in public. Use this feature on LinkedIn to confidentially alert recruiters that you are open to hearing about new opportunities.

If your boss asks you “Are you job hunting?” you can say “I always try to keep my network active.” It’s none of your boss’s business whether or not you are job hunting.

Your boss could ask you “Are you job hunting?” whether you are actively job hunting or not!

We all have to learn how to conduct a stealth job search. Otherwise, we’d be trapped in every unhappy workplace we enter, until they decide to cut us loose!

You are your own CEO now. You will feel triumphant and strong when you tell your boss you’re leaving.

If you don’t trust your manager to let you work for two more weeks after you give notice, then don’t give notice at all — just tell your boss you’re leaving on your way out the door.

Best of luck in your job search!

Yours,

Liz

   

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