I recently graduated and was hired by an employee under my relative. My resume went through my relative to his employee, my boss. A month after I started my boss left the company and they have yet to find a replacement. For the past few months, I have done odd jobs across the company, most of the tasks you could get a cheaper employee to do. And recently I have had trouble finding tasks to complete.

I have started looking for other positions as I feel myself, my relative, and the company would be better off if I found a position that utilized my skill set more. Do I tell my relative that I am looking for a new position? When I started he told me to talk to him if I received an offer from a different company. So I am not sure if this falls into this category of openness.

I would definitely stay with the company if I had more tasks and ones that utilized my skill set. But working with family does make me uncomfortable.

EDIT: Should I inform my relative that I am looking for a new position or tell him when I find one? Which is better to keep family relations intact?

  • 6
    Never tell your current employer until you give notice. This applies whether it is family or not. Do not accept if they offer you more to stay.
    – HLGEM
    Commented Nov 1, 2015 at 21:10
  • Expanding HLGEM's comment, searches like accept offer to stay return a lot of relevant hits.
    – Móż
    Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 0:54
  • @HLGEM While that is normally the advice I give, in this case the issue mainly seems to be that the OP doesn't have any actual work to do. If his role is properly redefined or he is assigned a good manager he might not need to look for a new job and can avoid having a short-term job on his resume. I do agree that if there's no indication of improvement and OP finds another job he shouldn't accept a counteroffer because at that point the company has already shown a lack of action and proper management (assuming that the OP actually raised his concerns).
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 8:43

4 Answers 4


Should I inform my relative that I am looking for a new position or tell him when I find one? Which is better to keep family relations intact?

This looks like family helping family. I would tell definitely tell him I'm looking for another job out of respect. And I'd let him know when I got one as well. His request implied as much, and he helped you out, it seems the least you can do.


I think the key here is how close you are with the relative. Also relevant: to what extent is the relative genuinely benefitting from hiring you, and are you possibly being groomed to join a family firm?

So, some scenarios:

  • the relative is a parent, older sibling, or someone who lives in your house or very near you and you see outside of work all the time. In this case, you can have a conversation with this relative outside of work. Don't say you're leaving. Tell the relative how you feel about not having any real work to do. Be accurate - don't say you feel guilty about being overpaid for what you're doing if the real issue is you're not learning and growing. Your relative may advise you to be patient and wait for something specific to happen that will let you start doing real work again, or may agree they are ok with you looking for more relevant work
  • the relative is doing you (or some intermediary like one of your parents) a favour by employing you. If you don't need the favour any more, and can stand on your own feet, you can visit them at work, thank them profusely for "getting you started" and tell them you feel ready to look for different work now. They may ask you not to, and ask how they need to change the job to keep you (which will be an indication it wasn't a favour after all) or they may smile and nod and wish you luck and ask you to let them know when you've found something
  • you are supposed to join this firm at a fairly high level some day. Use this "no specific duties" time to learn all you can about it. Are there inefficiencies in the mail room, the warehouse, the truck-maintenance, the floor-sweeping, that some day it will help for you to know about? What do the people at the lowest levels of the company do all day? What do the customers value? Who are your suppliers? Where are there pain points you may be able to address in a few years? Use your time to know this company as no-one else has ever known it. You'll be less bored, and when you ascend to your family-mandated place, you'll be very good at whatever job you have been given.

Your situation may fall somewhere between these extremes, but consider these options and mix-and-match to something that will work for you.

In the short term, if you have no boss, you could meet with the relative once to say that you really have very little to do. What the relative says then might help you to decide who is doing a favour to whom, and how much the relative wants you to stay with the firm. As well, if there is another relative between you (for example, if this relative is your mother's brother, your mother is between you), you could have this conversation with that relative, who may know the person and their motivations much better than you think, and may even have helped to arrange this situation.


Your job, and you relative's job, are independent. Your leaving won't hurt their career. Your leaving shouldn't hurt their feelings either. I really do agree with HLGEM: let them know when you are ready to give notice, to avoid awkward situations before then. Heck, when the time comes your relative may feel relieved that they can cut headcount by one without anyone having to be out of work.

It would be apropriate to tell your supervisor, relative or not, that you'd really like an assignment that lets you dig in and use your skills to their fullest, even if it means moving to a different part of the management chain. Internal opportunities may exist if you actively go looking for them. You may need to talk to other managers toom to get an idea of what might be available.


Personally, I would quit, clean break, and just tell them as nicely as you can, "I love working for you, but its just wierd working for family. I need a more neutral relationship."

Looking for new work secretely while working for someone else is dishonest. I realize people do this because they want security or do not want to miss income, but fundamentally it is dishonest. Since you sound like you have major no financial issues, there is no reason to keep working under false pretences and should just quit, THEN start looking for a new job.

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