I'm currently searching for a new job. If my boss asks me if I'm looking, should I tell the truth?
Did you advertise yourself where they seek talent?
Did you update your resume with your current job description, and did you post this resume on an online website that your employer frequently searches for candidates?
I hope you can see what my point is going to be here. If you've publicly advertised yourself in the same space as your employer than there really are no secrets here. Your boss can make the question sound ambiguous when he knows for a fact you're seeking a new job.
It's a safe assumption that your boss hires people with similar skills as yourself and therefore you appear in the same candidate searches.
My small group is pretty demoralized at this point. One of my coworkers gave his notice late last week, and apparently there's a good chance our supervisor is going to ask me if I'm thinking of leaving also.
Your boss is allowed to ask this question. It's his job to manage his work force and if he thinks an employee is going to quit then he needs to be prepared.
Because I don't think this is an appropriate question, given the nature of the employment contract these days, I don't feel an ethical obligation to tell the truth.
I would fire you on the spot, and I've seen bosses fire people for less reasons.
If I knew you were searching for a job (i.e. I see your online activity) and when directly asked the question you lie to me. That's grounds for dismissal, and could be terminated with a reason which isn't a good thing for you.
The business sees their employees as an investment with a return over time. That takes training, skill development and money. If they knew you were leaving it means any current investment is a waste of money.
On the other hand, it's plausible that the negative consequences of lying (in terms of future references) shouldn't be dismissed.
Let's recap here:
- you could be fired for lying
- you could be fired later when the lie catches up to you
- you could be fired for telling the truth
I want to stress the keyword here as could meaning that we don't know what will happen.
I apologize if the above was not very helpful, but it sadly is accurate. It's one of the reason job hunting is so stressful.
Always be honest
If your boss asks if you're looking for work. Say something like this.
"Yes, I always have my resume online and keep it up to date. You never know when opportunity will come by. So I like to keep my options open."
If you have a required 2 weeks notice, then I'd reassure your boss that you will provide him/her with the required notice.
If your boss asks if you've gone to any interviews lately?
"I can reassure you that I am not quitting my job anytime soon, and if by chance a reason comes up. I'll give you the 2 weeks notice as we agreed upon when I was hired".
The key to the above is to address your boss's fear. Unless you have a firm written job offer you are staying with your current job until you are fired or quit. So it's completely accurate and truthful. Even if you expect to receive an offer soon. The key is to not burn your bridges before you're ready.
Good luck with your job search. I assume your current job sucks.