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So, I'm scheduled for an interview with a company that aligns well with my field. Today I received notification that I was getting a raise, as well as a Christmas bonus. Knowing that I am actively searching for a new job (and have a chance at one) I feel guilty accepting this money.

I certainly can't reject it outright, because letting my boss know I'm leaving prematurely is just a terrible idea. I have however been toying around with just sitting on it, and upon giving my resignation returning it, stating that since I was planning on leaving, I wouldn't feel right accepting it.

Doing the above would ease my conscience about the state I'm leaving my employer in (Feel free to weigh in on that question too!), but is it the professional thing to do? Given that I received the bonus without my boss knowing I was leaving, it obviously wasn't an incentive to stay or anything, so it's not really an intended leverage point (which I would have to decline), but at the same time, it feels like by taking it and leaving I'm biting the hand that feeds me. Is there any professional way to deal with this situation?

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Is there any professional way to deal with this situation?

You don't have a new job yet - you just hope to get one eventually. You are only scheduled for an interview.

It's all fine to be optimistic, but the reality is:

  • You haven't even had the interview yet
  • You don't know if you will actually like this company
  • You don't know if they will actually like you
  • You certainly don't have an offer yet
  • You don't know if you will accept whatever they offer
  • You don't know if they would pay you what you are seeking
  • You really have no idea how long it will be before you leave your current company

Given all that, the logical thing to do is to be quiet and take the raise and bonus. Clearly, you have earned it.

If you do end up giving your notice to your current company soon, and for some unlikely reason they ask why you didn't mention that you were looking, just indicate that you didn't know when or if you'd land your next job. That's precisely the truth.

I think you are unnecessarily concerned about this.

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    I feel that this deserves the upvotes instead of the one-liner accepted answer. – Kevin Dec 15 '14 at 14:23
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    Actually, I agree; it's a more nuanced answer and the caveats are entirely appropriate. My answer benefitted from being early... but there is some value in immediacy, though SE prefers deeper ones for archival value. – keshlam Dec 30 '14 at 14:20
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Bonuses are generally a reward for the work you've done in the past. If you've earned it, I think you've earned it.

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    Absolutely! You get bonuses for work performed, not anticipated future work. – Nick2253 Dec 12 '14 at 23:35
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    From the point of view of the employee bonuses ARE a reward for good work done. Employers, however, do see them as a retention mechanism, and will refrain from giving them out if they happen to find out the employee is leaving. The OP is absolutely in the right to take the bonus, however. – teego1967 Dec 30 '14 at 13:51
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It can be many weeks or even months between the interview and start date. To decide to turn down a bonus without a job offer doesn't make a lot of sense.

The bonus is a reward for a job well done. The raise is also to reward you for the quality of your work. Unless they put a requirement on the bonus that obligates you to stay you can't worry about it.

You should expect that if you announce you are leaving before the bonus is awarded they probably won't give you the bonus.

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