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I'm currently seeking employment in another state due to personal family issues, and have been applying to jobs in the state. Right now, I am still employed by a state governing body and am on fairly good terms with all of my co-workers.

But, I haven't told them yet that I'm trying to find employment in another state.

They will most likely find out once the jobs I've been applying to start to call and ask them about my work experience, and I want them to be able to talk about me because I believe they have generally favorable things to say about my work.

But, how do I break it to them that I'm looking for work elsewhere? Keeping in mind I have no issues with my current job, but want to move out of state very badly.

Update to explain my situation in a little more detail:

In terms of professional experience, I've only ever had the one job. I did a little bit of independent web coding outside of my current Java Programming position, but that was with relatives, and doesn't very accurately reflect my Java Programming experience.

In addition to this, a transfer from my current job is out of the question - I currently work for the state of New York, and am looking to move to Maryland in order to live closer to my in-laws and to escape New York winters - transferring to a different job in the same state wouldn't help anything.

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    Usually people don't use their current job for references, for just this reason - they don't want to let on they are looking until they have a job offer in hand. Why are you using them for references? – thursdaysgeek Jan 28 at 1:19
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    Why do you assume they will call your current employer? Did you list them as reference? – DarkCygnus Jan 28 at 1:22
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    @thursdaysgeek I thought most jobs, at least in my experience (UK), require you to list your current manager at least as a reference. In any case, I wouldn't tell your current employer - I've been burnt before when applying for a job when it turned out the potential employer was a client of my current employer (which I didn't know about). The potential employer told my current employer (even though I wasn't shortlisted) which led to be being nearly sacked on the spot (still in my probationary). I wouldn't tell them, let them find out if a reference is needed or when you hand your notice in. – user25730 Jan 28 at 2:06
  • @thursdaysgeek Unfortunately, this is the only professional experience I have in the field, so I can't exactly exclude them. – Zibbobz Jan 28 at 13:04
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    Yes, you can exclude them. You are not the only person in the world with 1 job under your belts, and employers understand you don't want them contacting your current job. It's routine. – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil Jan 28 at 20:17
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Typically, when you're leaving a job, you don't tell your current employer, and you don't use your current employer as a reference. You ask the jobs you interview with not to contact your current employer, and they generally agree. (Sometimes they'll make your offer contingent on a reference check that happens after you give notice to your current employer.) This is good advice for the majority of circumstances, and it wouldn't be wrong for you to proceed this way.

However, since you have a compelling reason to leave, you might consider approaching your boss and telling them about it. They may be able to "transfer" you -- I understand from one state agency to another this may not technically be a transfer, but find you a position in the town you need to move to, quickly. They may be able to recommend you to one of their peers who they meet at conferences or whatever. In other words, they can help your job search dramatically. They might not want to, but then again they might: you're a nice person and have a compelling reason to move quickly.

Also, if you'd like to move back when this crisis is over, your boss may be able to arrange a leave of 6 months or a year, or otherwise keep that door open for you. There is an upside for you in sharing plans with your boss that is generally not there when someone is leaving a job because they are dissatisfied.

  • However the worst case is they dump you, or at least certainly don’t give you raises or new opportunities, because you’re “leaving anyway.” If you don’t get a new job and move fast, your job there will start going downhill - slowly or quickly, but those are the only two options. – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil Jan 28 at 1:56
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    Yeah, they might. I never did, and yes I had people trust me with their personal situations and plans related to that. But there is a chance you will do less well in the time you have left at this job if they know you're going. I think it's smaller in the case of "I have to go take care of my mother" but that doesn't mean it's zero. – Kate Gregory Jan 28 at 2:09
  • All of these are good suggestions, but sadly do not apply to me - I can't leave my current employer out of this because I've only ever had the one job. And I can't get a transfer out of state because this is a state job, and the reason for moving is to move to a different state. – Zibbobz Jan 28 at 13:05
  • I know you can't technically transfer. But your employer may have ideas you don't. "I know Joe in City X, he would love a smart [y-er] like you, let me make a call." And nobody is saying leave your current employer off your resume. Just don't offer them as a reference during the interview process. – Kate Gregory Jan 28 at 13:07
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    Never put references on your resume. ALWAYS say References Available on Request. During the interview, you can give a prof or summer employer, if you have one, or you can explain it's only the current employer and you would like to wait on that. Employers understand. References are important but they don't make or break your application. Not wanting your current employer contacted is entirely normal. Not having a lot of references when you're in your first job is entirely normal. You may find our references tag enlightening: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/references – Kate Gregory Jan 28 at 16:42

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