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The behavior of my colleague has changed lately. He's never worked much. But now he started to leave earlier and disappear for a few hours in the middle of the working day. Also he seems much less focused even when he's there.

As far as I know his family/ personal life are stable, so that shouldn't be the reason.

My first thought was he's job searching like crazy, so I'm wondering what the typical signs of someone job searching are and whether I should do anything special about it.

The question is quite important for me since the cooperation with the colleague has been very difficult and I'm dependant on him. I.e. if he doesn't leave soon, I will probably need to.

Is this behavior typical of a person looking for a new job?

closed as too broad by gnat, Jan Doggen, sleske, sf02, Jon Story Apr 29 at 15:17

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Are you his supervisor? Why would you need to leave if he doesn't? – sf02 Apr 26 at 20:03
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    the real question is "cooperation with the colleague has been very difficult and I'm dependant on him -- how to approach". Do you have a manager, do you both have the same manager? – aaaaaa Apr 26 at 20:35
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    Why are you so dependent on this person? You need to assume any employee could leave at any time for any reason, that so is an issue that should be resolved regardless. – Seth R Apr 26 at 20:39
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    Depending on the success of someone else's job search would be setting yourself up for a hard time. Job searching can take months or years, and in the mean time they may decide they're happy where they are, or the company decides to promote them to the position of your senior or boss. Not to mention they may not even be searching. You need to do your best to resolve your problems yourself. – Dukeling Apr 26 at 21:01
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    People certainly do change behavior when they're on the verge of leaving, but it's not like these changes are definite or the same with everyone. The more important question is what would you do with this knowledge? If there's a concern that this person will be leaving, yes of course you should definitely be preparing for that contingency since you're dependent on him. That doesn't mean you need to communicate that to anyone else, just to yourself. – teego1967 Apr 29 at 13:09
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What are typical signs that someone is searching for a job?

Hard to tell, as there is no "standard" for signs that indicate someone is job-hunting. Some people could show no signs, some may be less focused, some may be more irritated, others could be more friendly/cooperative, etc.. it will depend on the nature and personality of this specific coworker.


There are many possibilities on why your coworker is distracted/leaving earlier. It could be family issues, health issues, or well job-searching...

However, as someone stated in comments, the real issue here is the communication and cooperation between you and this coworker, and that is what you should be focusing on solving (instead of the why is he behaving that way).

I suggest you approach your coworker, privately, and try something like this:

Hello Joe. I have been getting the feeling that you have been worried by something lately, is everything ok? If I can help in something do tell and I'll gladly assist you.

Now, I must also say that I feel that lately our communication and interaction has not been in its best shape, and that has started to affect me in X and Y tasks. What can we do to overcome this situation? What are your thoughts on this?

This will show politeness and empathy towards your coworker, as well as a positive attitude and disposition to find a mutual solution. From here you can work out what you two need from each other to make this interaction as smoothly as possible.

Now, if this does not work, or does not work as fast as you need, the next course of action is to raise this with your boss. Explain to them professionally and objectively the tasks and requirements you have been having issues advancing with, and ask you boss what he/she suggests to do.

Don't mention your suspicious about your coworker job-searching, as that would be speculating and will not help solve the core issue. Again, keep it as objectively and professionally as you can, stating facts and what you need to be productive. Your boss should know how to handle this from that point.

  • Thanks DarkCygnus. However, I don't think that's a good answer. I don't mention the whole history of working with my coworker for a reason. Instead of answering my question, you focus on something I didn't ask about speculating about my situation, which you don't know. It could be a good answer but to a totally different question. – user323134 Apr 26 at 21:29
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    I see... I answered the hidden question and issue in your post, as the "typical signs of someone job-searching" would be off-topic on this site, as it depends on each person and the signs they show... sometimes when you ask "how to foo the bar" it is ok to answer "don't foo the bar"... would you mind telling us what would you gain by "knowing" your coworker is intending to leave? that way I can see if I can enhance my answer – DarkCygnus Apr 26 at 21:31
  • "would be off-topic on this site, as it depends on each person and the signs they show" - every question on this site depends on the persons who interact: their characters, way of communicating, experiences, cultures they grew up in. This doesn't make most of them OT. – user323134 Apr 26 at 21:34
  • Without context it's hard to help TBH... I know you may be reluctant to disclose some information, but it's hard to guess "the whole story" – DarkCygnus Apr 26 at 21:36
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Note, this is specific to OPs sitatuation as a peer. It does not apply to anybody who is in a supervisory role.

What are typical signs that someone is searching for a job?

The only signs you can rely on, to tell whether a colleague is looking for a new job, are:

  • The colleague may tell you; "I dislike this job, I am searching for a new job"

  • The colleague may ask you; "Do you know of any good jobs? I'm looking to leave this one."

  • The colleague may write in an email; "Dear OP, I'm afraid I'm close to the end of my time here - we should prepare a handover while I am looking for a new job"

All other "signs" can be categorized as: "none of your business"

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What are typical signs that someone is searching for a job?

There are no "typical" signs, because there's no typical methods for finding a job. Where an opportunity materializes can come from MANY places. Consider the methods in which people find work:

  • LinkedIn messages
  • Personal Network
  • Business Network
  • Job Fairs
  • Online Search
  • Newspaper (I know, old school)

... and so on. Someone leaving early MIGHT indicate that they're doing interviews. But this could easily be a LOT of other things. Maybe they're sick. Maybe they have a family member who is sick. Maybe they have some personal problem you are not aware of. Sometimes I leave early, when I'm just too tired and I make up the hour or two later in the week. Sometimes I'm having a bad day and I'll leave earlier because I know it affecting my productivity. No one can speak with certainty about whether this means someone is looking for new work or not.

I've answered to the question you asked, but the actual problem you're having is this: You need to know how to handle a potentially volatile or unstable team in terms of presence. You're worried that you'll be alone in working on whatever it is you're working on.

The question is quite important for me since the cooperation with the colleague has been very difficult and I'm dependant on him. I.e. if he doesn't leave soon, I will probably need to.

There's a couple approaches to THIS problem. Personally, if a colleague was "inconsistent" and I needed them, I would start making an effort to fill my knowledge gaps that they have been filling. If that's not possible then I would do my best to do the work I'm responsible for as best as I could. If / when the time hits and they leave and you're alone schedule a meeting with your manager and have an honest conversation about what the issue is and what you're prepared to do and get a clear definition of what the expectation is and if the expectation is BEYOND your ability, communicate that, it's important.

Broadly speaking, I think it's best to embrace the change rather than try to "beat it" by "getting out" first. Mostly because it's really a good opportunity to grow and also a good opportunity to learn and if your manager can accommodate the additional time for the more difficult tasks for you, because you're doing more varied and complex work, it's worth it to maybe stick around. It might be a really good opportunity to grow and demonstrate your value to the organization (which would likely lead to an increase in pay).

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