I have been contacted by a potential employer with a role that looks very suited to my background.

I am the CTO at my current role. The CEO is a good friend of many years standing, and we have been involved with this business for almost 20 years.

However,for various reasons, I am receptive to this possibility. I have been through several rounds of technical and other interviews via Skype, and now will be required to take a couple of days to go for a series of interviews in person. As the role is in another country, there is some travel involved.

So at this stage, I will either need to be vague (i.e. lie) about what this leave is for, or discuss this with the CEO.

I live in a country where it is reasonably difficult to be dismissed without fairly extensive workplace process, so I am not overly concerned about the security of my role.

I am somewhat concerned about how this will affect my relationship with the CEO generally, and the most professional way to handle this.

What is the best course of action?

  • You don't need to lie. Just say you need some personal time. Sep 16, 2019 at 7:06
  • @PhilipKendall - that's true. I am a little concerned about the fact that I'll be out of the country, and not easily contactable, and how to explain that. Sep 16, 2019 at 7:13
  • Something to keep in mind is that in places the "family extensive workplace process" required to dismiss someone doesn't apply to those earning over a certain salary. Sep 16, 2019 at 7:21
  • @GregoryCurrie good point. Sep 16, 2019 at 7:23
  • 2
    If you're in a role where you can't go fully offline for a few days without having to explain yourself in any level of detail beyond "I'm getting away for personal time" then I can understand why you might want to switch jobs.
    – dwizum
    Sep 16, 2019 at 13:09

3 Answers 3


The standard practice is not to discuss with the current employer without a solid offer. What happens if your interview doesn't go good and they don't want to offer a job?

The downside is that you will effectively ruin the relationship with the current employer. They might put you as risk and might withold salary increments and possibly looking for reasons to let go. If you are expecting a better salary or any other arrangements, its better to discuss with current employer first before searching for new job.

Take a leave saying that its for personal reasons you don't want to discuss. It wouldn't be lying.

If you are looking to be reachable over phone, activate a roaming pack or similar, even if it is bit expensive.


Nobody other you can judge the value of the personal relationship you share with the CEO. 20 years is a long time to be associated with someone, at which point many personal and professional boundaries can blur.

If you value the relation at a personal level, I would suggest to spend some time reflecting on your motivations and your CEO's plausible reactions here, to avoid souring the relation.

First, your motivation:

  • Are you looking out because of any work related problems? If yes, have you discussed them with the CEO? Is there even a shred of it?

  • Is your motivation for interviewing that this is too good an opportunity to resist? What if another one came your way that offered same terms?

  • If you fail at converting this one, will you continue searching for other opportunities ?

  • Do you have any other motivations - like better growing up environment for kids etc?

  • Would you want to come back to the organization after some amount of time?

Next, your CEO's reactions:

  • Is the CEO the rational type, or will he flip out?
  • Will he consider it a betrayal if you moved out without giving him any clue?
  • Is there enough transition time available for the CEO if you decide to leave?

Based on these, and how much you value the relationship with the CEO (completely professional to workplace friends to best buddies), you should decide the quantum of hints/actions you need to take.

If the CEO will flip out or the relationship is completely professional, this will be 0 hints/actions. You just inform travelling outstation with limited connectivity.

If the transition time is low but you value the relationship, you can take some actions like training an replacement from amongst your subordinates etc

But if the relationship is one of best buddies, and the CEO can rationally process their emotions, I would suggest to have an open conversation with the CEO about why you are interested in the opportunity, and what would happen in cases when you fail and when you succeed.


Unless this new business is a direct competitor of your current business, I see no reason to be exceptionally secretive with the CEO.

Twenty years is the better part of an entire career, and being a CTO is so far up the ladder that you may not ever have an opportunity like what you're getting. Be honest. Twenty years also sounds a lot like "I've grown a lot, my kids are grown, spouse and I are thinking about changing our entire lives as we look towards retirement." You are friends with the CEO, you should be able to be open and honest about this as well.

Your current employer will need to perform an executive search for your replacement, I'd start looking at the list of CTO candidates you know, or senior-level leaders in the business who you can recommend to replace you. Go to the CEO with that information, as well as your intention to explore other opportunities.

Basically, openness, honesty, handling this in a responsible manner, should all work for you.

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