Looking for a new job? Mum’s the word!

Looking for a new job while occupying a position in a company has always been a perilous and unpalatable task, yet one the vast majority of workers are obliged to undertake at one time or another. Can we confide in colleagues? Should we signal our intentions to the higher-ups? Leaders League discussed the dos and don’ts with corporate career-guidance specialist Emmanuel Fort.

Posted mardi, juillet 11 2023
Looking for a new job? Mum’s the word!

That’s that, your mind’s made up. Whether it’s to challenge yourself, be better paid or switch sectors, after several years of loyal service, you have decided to leave your company to see if the grass is greener at another firm. Headhunters have been contacted, CVs polished and job sites combed for offers. In your head you might already be elsewhere, but you don’t want to appear as if you’ve checked out.

Loose lips
"Revealing you are looking for a new job is a strategic decision, and you should consider how it will impact your relationship with colleagues and management and, indeed, affect your career,” states Emmanuel Fort, the founder of management consultancy Breasy. His advice? "Until you’ve officially joined another company, you shouldn’t say a word, not even to your closest colleagues.”

In a company, the walls have ears and nothing ever stays a secret. In Fort’s estimation, there is nothing worse for a senior-level employee than being confronted with a situation where everyone knows you want to leave but nothing has yet happened. You risk becoming a lame duck, sidelined during meetings and projects. “Imagine you end up deciding to stay at the company after all for whatever reason. If word gets out that you were interviewing elsewhere, you’ve just shot yourself in the foot,” adds the career coach.

Looking for a new job generates stress and worry as you are devoting considerable bandwidth to finding a new job while keeping up appearances at your current place of work

So why would anyone in their right mind let it be known they are looking to leave? Some see this course of action as a gambit, one deployed in the hope of making their company, panicked by the possibility of their departure, make a counter-offer, up their pay or bestow a more important title upon them.

"I don’t get this line of thinking, and in my opinion it almost never works,” comments Fort, who insists that, however high you believe your standing at a company to be, no one is irreplaceable. He says management rarely offers someone leaving more money to stay because, “It’s a form of blackmail. If a company does it once, it will encourage other staff-members to try the same tactic, and before you know it the payroll has mushroomed.” Besides, rare is the company that sees any point in trying to retain a staff member whose “head and heart are elsewhere.”  

Business as usual
Certainly, looking for a new job generates stress and worry as you are devoting considerable bandwidth to finding a new job while keeping up appearances at you current place of work. It’s closing a chapter of your life and opening a new one, with all the mixed feelings that go with that, on both a professional and personal level. “You need only look at the terminology society applies: “turning the page, finding a new purpose ─ these are emotive expressions,” remarks Fort who insists people in this situation should try to be dispassionate, carry on as normal and have the professional pride to remain fully invested in their current role until such time as they officially announce their departure. “The world of work is a small place, and one must always leave on good terms.”

Furthermore, while honesty and frankness are admirable qualities and serve us well in the majority of life’s important situations, when it comes to looking for a new job, convention dictates the worker be surreptitious and secretive, as this is in the interests of everyone; your company, your colleagues, your manager and, most of all, yourself.