Background: I work at a large US company with an IT department of a few thousand people, and have been here for a couple of years. Several months ago my manager submitted paperwork to promote me, as I tend to work above my current pay grade and am well-regarded by peers and customers. Unfortunately, the department did not see a business case for it, and I would need to wait several months before they could try again. This did not bother me too much, as I am well-paid and enjoy my job and team, but I also didn’t see any harm in looking around at other job openings in case something came up. I shared this fact with no one at work, only my family. I have a good relationship with my manager, but saw no reason to let them know I was looking because I have been badly burned by that at other companies in the past.

After a few months I saw a couple openings that looked interesting, so I submitted a couple of applications. A few weeks later, my manager asked for a private chat, because they had been informed I was looking for another job at the company. I said yes, but I had no serious plans and was just exploring options at this point. Now, they and some department sponsors are fast-tracking an opening for a new, more senior job I can apply to, and although there are no guarantees I stand a very good chance of getting it. So, in an unexpected way, I recognize that things are working out in my favor, albeit at the cost of some awkward tension in my relationship with my manager.

Here’s the thing I keep thinking about: the fact that my job application was 'leaked' to my current manager feels unprofessional and a breach of trust by the company. Sure, things may be going well now, but if I’m wanting to move up in a few years and there’s no opportunities on the team, do I dare job search within the company again? What happens if my current manager moves and the next person might react more negatively to a revelation I was looking to leave the team? I worry about the potential for retribution, and wonder if I’ll need to look outside the company for future promotions.

As far as I can tell, there is not a company culture expectation to include the current manager in job searches unless I have a very good relationship with them (from discussions with family with company experience). Am I unreasonable to expect that internal job searches at a very large company should be kept confidential between the hiring department and the internal applicant, at least until a hiring decision is made?

  • Related question (but not a duplicated): Should I tell my manager about applying to a different (internal) job?
    – ColleenV
    Oct 15, 2021 at 15:43
  • I'm not sure why you think it would or should be awkward with your current manager that you're looking at other positions. Good workers eventually move onwards, upwards, and, often, outwards to other areas or other companies. I think you telling him that it's "not serious" was a big mistake, and basically a lie. If one of these good positions were offered to you, you'd take it, right? So, it's serious. A simple "yes, I'm exploring my options" would have been better, IMO. Oct 15, 2021 at 16:51
  • @PoloHoleSet that is what I said, maybe I didn't summarize correctly. "Yes, but I had no serious plans" in the conversation means that I had only submitted applications, and not talked to or interviewed with anyone. This was conveyed to my manager in the actual conversation. Oct 15, 2021 at 17:19
  • Ah, gotcha. So "not serious" was more of a communication that things were still in the early, preliminary stages, vs personal intent. Thanks for clarifying. Oct 19, 2021 at 22:14

2 Answers 2


Why wouldn't the company discuss internal staffing?

If a manager is trying to fill a position and got a candidate from another department, one of the first things that they're likely to do is to ask the candidate's current manager what their view is of the candidate. They're going to have a far better understanding of the person than you can get from an hour long interview.

It can also help them start planning on how to fill the space on their team, or what they can do to make the move less disruptive.

Despite how it may appear in some companies, different departments are actually on the same side as each other, and should try and work together. If they're keeping secrets from each other, something has gone wrong.

  • 4
    It has been my experience that the other department head would always check with your manager. 1) To let your manager he is not stealing you behind his back. 2) Validate your credentials for the role you are applying for. 3) Why would you have expectations that you applying for a position within the company would be confidential. 4) Why would your manager have any negative feeling, you ask for more compensation to match your skill level and it was turned down. Oct 15, 2021 at 15:40
  • 1
    Good points, thank you for the feedback. I'm realizing that most of my reaction is just emotional baggage from being burned in the past, and I shouldn't be carrying that into a good company. I wish the hiring manager had asked me first before talking to my manager, but I probably shouldn't expect that in the future. Oct 15, 2021 at 17:21
  • 3
    Future tip: Always talk to your current boss first when applying for internal vacancies. Oct 15, 2021 at 18:44

Am I unreasonable to expect that internal job searches at a very large company should be kept confidential between the hiring department and the internal applicant, at least until a hiring decision is made?

Probably, yeah. And why should you want that, anyway?

Look at what has happened. It sounds like your manager is startled to learn that you're unhappy with your professional growth and they're scrambling to adjust so that they can keep you in their part of the organization. Maybe you aren't unhappy, but getting a call out of the blue that someone is job searching sets off alarm bells in any decent manager's mind that they've dropped the ball and now they are in damage control mode to retain a good employee.

How has this injured you in any way?

  • Like I said, I recognize that this has been an unexpected benefit to me, and did not injure me. I just feel offended that the hiring manager didn't ask me before talking to my manager, but from everyone's feedback I see that I should not expect this in the future. Oct 15, 2021 at 17:24

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .