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Over the last few days I have decided that I need to get a new job. I say need because my current one has me feeling unhappy, demotivated and it makes my evenings and weekends less enjoyable at the thought of going in the next day - it's a real struggle to get out of bed in the morning for the same reason.

Currently I'm a software developer in the UK. I'm looking at a change of industry and I'm not really enjoying working within IT and being stuck in an office and in front of a screen all day, every day.

One option that I've got is to apply into my local police force, but I noticed on their application form it asks for current employer details so that they can contact them for a reference. I'm now unsure as to whether or not I should tell my employer that I'm actively looking for a change (and whether or not to say it's for my personal, mental health reasons).

I know it's widely recommended not to until an interview/position is lined up, but will a reference be asked for before any interview takes place? It seems more respectful to let him know that I'm looking, that way reference requests won't be such a surprise.

Additionally, there's been talk of a few long-term projects that I'd be taking on which could go on for a few months or even a year or more, which I don't want to be taking on as it would massively delay me leaving.

Should I tell him? Will a reference be asked for before or after an interview? How do I stop myself being tied into a long-term project?

  • A few things... 1) What exactly do you want us to answer here? Be specific. 2) What are the terms of your contract vis a vis notice? 3) How close are you and your boss? – JohnHC May 16 at 11:20
  • I'm just looking for any advice really on the recommended practice regarding job hunting whilst still employed, since this is my first proper job. I'm not sure what the notice terms are, but I believe that it's 4 weeks. I'm not particularly close to him on a personal level but I'd say we're close enough for me to tell him, but I'm not sure what reaction it'd get. – David May 16 at 11:40
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Usually, when asked for references you can just say that you rather not have them contact your current employer since you don't want to disclose just yet that you are leaving. It's a pretty common situation, so they should understand it. Instead, you can offer references from an older employer or a colleague that you trust from your current company (that won't tell your employer about you looking for a job.)

You should not tell your employer, since once you tell them, they will have an eye on you and they might fire and replace you on the first chance they have. Also, telling them won't guarantee you to get good references from them (Remember, you just told them you are going to abandon the company. They might not be very happy about it). You might end up jobless and without a backup.

Best thing to do is not tell them about you leaving, explain to the police forces that you rather them not contact your current employer and wait to see what they say. As I said, it is a pretty common situation.

About you being tied to long term projects, you can't avoid it. People leave their companies during long term projects all the time. If you want to be nice to your company, just work on whatever they tell you to work on and document everything so the next guy can easily pick up your work when you leave.

  • My biggest issue is that this is a small company with only 4 people working here (myself, my boss and 2 others) and it's my first job so I'd not be able to get a reference from another employee or previous employer. I don't think that they'd actively look to fire me, as I say we've limited numbers in terms of staff and my role wouldn't be easy to fill without getting somebody really experienced in, and they'd require a much higher salary than I'm on. I think I'll contact the recruitment people at the forces and ask what they suggest. Thanks – David May 16 at 11:45
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    @David They might not actively look to fire you, but they will start looking for a replacement, specially if they have long term projects, as you said. They won't want to have you take a project and leave half way through, so they will look for somebody else and once they have it, they will let you go. It's not guaranteed, but it is the most common way to do things. They won't just sit down and wait for you to leave whenever you want. – A.T. May 16 at 11:51
  • That's a good point and something I'd not thought about. I've contacted the recruitment department at my local police force to ask for their advice on this :) – David May 16 at 11:59
  • @David Good luck! If you found my answer useful, please mark it as accepted! – A.T. May 16 at 13:09
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Maybe you just need a holiday, or at least a minibreak (a few days plus weekend somewhere completely different).

From the UK, you obviously have a lot of scope to jump on a train or drive somewhere to do this. Or Flights - all of Europe is 3 or 4 hours away.

Try and mix it up a bit at work; ask to work in a different office for a while; work from home 1 or 2 days a week, or for a few weeks.

Your employer may say no to the above, or may agree when they realise the alternative is to lose you completely.

If you're determined to leave, but just want slightly different, have a look at contracting instead (you can have the "excitement" of having to find a new job every 6-9 months). One that I did about 10 years ago involved working nights installing hardware in a Jewish community bathhouse.

Either way, start by updating your CV. You'll be amazed how much stuff you've done that you've forgotten about, and that must now be summarised for public consumption. This act alone is quite cathartic.

Whatever your choice....good luck and have a good journey.

  • It's definitely time for a change - I just don't enjoy working in IT. I've had 3 mini-breaks and multiple other days off over the past 12 months and it's still the same. It's just not doing me any favours and a change of industry is certainly what I need. An updated CV is certainly required, it's been 3 years since I last changed anything on it! – David May 16 at 11:46

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