5 Things That Might Happen if Your Boss Finds Out You’re Job Searching

Well, this is awkward. You’ve been job searching, and now your boss knows it. Whether she overheard you chatting up a co-worker about your recent interview, called you on all of those “dentist appointments” you’ve been going to, or found a copy of your resume in the office printer, there’s no longer any way to hide the fact that you’ve been looking. What next? While there’s no way to predict how your manager will react, chances are you’ll run into one of these five scenarios.

1. You’ll Have a Real, Honest Conversation With Your Boss

Depending on your relationship with your boss, she might want to have an honest conversation about why you’re looking. Are you unhappy? Is there something that she can do to change your mind?

This could be a great opportunity to provide genuine feedback to your manager about your role. If you’re exploring new jobs because you don’t see any opportunities for growth at your current company, say so. If you’re hoping to find a better paying job elsewhere, let her know. If you’re just itching for a new challenge, that’s OK to say, too.

While having an open conversation may be cathartic, you’ll also want to make sure you’re tactful. Don’t turn this into a vent session—be constructive. Instead of saying, “I’ve been here for more than three years and still haven’t gotten a promotion,” try something like, “I’m starting to look toward taking the next step in my career and am really interested in taking on additional responsibilities to grow my skill set. Unfortunately, I don’t see an opportunity to grow in my current role, given the size of our department.”

2. You Might Get a Raise or a Promotion

If you’re a top performer, your boss won’t want to lose you. Finding out that you’re considering a move might motivate him to get things in motion.

Great, right? Well, it depends on why you decided to start exploring new opportunities in the first place. If you’re in a toxic work environment or don’t have faith in your company’s leadership, a higher salary won’t make those problems go away. (And why did it take the threat of you leaving to motivate your manager to finally reward all of your hard work, anyway?)

Whether you were just looking to find a better paying job or plotting your escape from a terrible company, accept your raise or promotion gracefully. If you were more or less happy at your current company but were hoping to find a new job with a higher salary or more responsibility, this would be a pretty ideal outcome.

But, if you’re still ready to move on in search of a bigger change, a more collaborative work environment, or a boss you really click with, it’s OK to keep looking. If you know that your current employer just isn’t where you belong anymore, a few extra dollars in the bank or a shiny new job title won’t fix that.

3. Your Every Move Will Be Scrutinized

Don’t be surprised if your manager starts questioning that longer-than-usual lunch break or your upcoming doctor appointment. It’s part of her job to keep you on task. Employees who are happy tend to be more productive and engaged at work, so if your manager thinks your departure is imminent, she’s probably going to worry that you’re spending all of your time browsing job postings and sneaking off to interviews.

If you feel like you’re suddenly working under a microscope, it’s probably not all in your head. Do your best to stay on top of your work, speak up in meetings, and deliver on your deadlines. This should help show that even though you’re on your way out, you’re still fully committed to your current role.

Keep this in mind: While most employers probably don’t regularly monitor their employees’ internet activity or email exchanges, they’re at liberty to do so. Use of a company computer, which isn’t your property, means the sites you’re visiting and who you’re emailing aren’t private.