Ask AmandaCareer Advice

Ask Amanda: What to Tell Your Current Employer When You’re Looking for a New Job

posted on November 6, 2015 | by Amanda Holstein

Ask Amanda: What to Tell Your Current Employer When You’re Looking for a New Job


Hi Amanda,

I’m not sure if you can help me with this one but I’m not sure who else to ask without sounding silly or uneducated. (I probably worry too much.)

When do you inform your current employer that you’re searching for a new job? Do you? I want to use my current boss as a reference on my resume but if I ask him, he will know I’m planning on leaving soon. I’m looking to make my next career move and have never left a job before. What are the best approaches when you’re on the way out? I don’t want to be unprofessional and I’ve never heard or read about this. It’s always about getting the job, not so much about how to leave a job.

Let me know what you think! I would appreciate any advice you have to offer.



Hi Meghan!

This is a great question and you’re certainly not silly for asking! This is something everyone goes through when they’re looking for a new job.

In terms of getting a reference, the general answer is that it sort of depends on your situation and what kind of relationship you have with your boss. If you are super close with your boss to the point where you’re part of each others lives and he has a genuine interest in helping you grow in your career, then I would sit down and tell him you’re starting to look and would love his help. However, most people don’t have that sort of relationship with their boss.

If your relationship is more on the professional side, I wouldn’t recommend telling him because he could always let you go and replace you before you secure a new job. In most cases, the company you’re applying to doesn’t need to look at your references until they’re far along in the interview process. I would wait as long as possible and only have them contact your boss once you’ve gotten a verbal offer or something close. That way you can ask your boss to be your reference and give your two weeks within the same timeframe.

You can always use other references until you get close to landing a job — ideally others in your current company who you can trust. Maybe there’s someone you work with everyday who is at your level or preferably higher. Think of someone who wouldn’t mind being a reference for you and wouldn’t tell anyone that you’re leaving. That’s sort of the best way to go if you feel you can’t tell your boss.

As for transitioning out, you really don’t want to say anything until you’ve secured a job. It’s always courtesy from that point to give 2 weeks notice and during that time, help make it as easy as possible for them to transition to someone new. If you can give them more time, that’s great, but I’d only recommend this if you’ve developed a genuine bond with your company and co-workers and truly want to help (because it’s really not necessary).

In the end, you just have to remember that this is business and not personal. If you go back to that principal and do what’s best for you professionally, then you should be fine.

Good luck!


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