I'm thinking about looking around for another job, but I don't know when I should tell my boss because I would like to see what kind of opportunities I can land before I even mention it. The reason I'm reluctant to tell him right away is I'm afraid he'll begin the process of replacing me. If I don't tell him while I'm looking around, then I can't use him as a reference and he'd most likely give a great recommendation. If I were to leave and go work for someone else, it wouldn't be until after I finish my current project which ends in two months because I don't want to screw anyone over.

How would you approach him about this and when?

Thanks in advance for your wisdom!

32 accepted

You don't. Only tell your boss after accepting an offer of employment.

It may be that extra heads up on your imminent departure may seem like a nice thing to do, but it may not work out that way.

  • It may look like trying to get a raise in a very passive/aggressive (annoying) manner
  • Changing your mind will still leave people the impression you do not want to be there
  • The boss concerned may get very annoyed and curb your opportunities to actually go out for job interviews during work hours
  • It may not come across as professional
  • Anyone looking for a job may be considered a security concern (code copying etc)

All of these things are reasons that it is much much easier for all concerned to only know you are leaving when it is a done deal.


I wouldn't tell my current employer about job opportunities unless one or another of these options are in play:

1) I'm considering the new opportunity and want to give my employer the chance to match (or surpass) the offered salary/benefits

2) I've taken the opportunity, and providing my two-weeks notice


If your boss reads SO, you just did.


You should tell your boss as soon as you reach the point that you no longer care whether you still have your current job the next day or not.

A lot of people so far have said not to tell him until you have a job offer in hand. If you are unwilling or unable to accept losing your old job before you have a new one lined up, then that is perfectly appropriate.

On the other hand, I've generally told my bosses as soon as I've decided to leave, both because I've had good relationships with almost every one of them and, as a personal matter, wanted them to know as far in advance as possible and because I've never been particularly worried about whether I might lose my job anyhow.


Depending how much you like your current boss/business, give as much notice as possible. Handling staff turnover is part of their job, and giving them more notice makes their lives easier. It's always a hard subject to broach, but if you've got some good and reasonable reasons for leaving, then they should understand and be helpful. You might even get an offer of a pay rise to stay!


It depends on your employer and your job, but the answer is probably not before you have an actual offer that you want to accept. Here's a question for you: how soon in advance would your employer tell you he's thinking of

  • Laying you off
  • Relocating your position

When you get a new position that you are sure you want to take, your new employer should give you adequate time for you to close up loose ends (which may likely more than the standard 2 weeks). Also, understand that your employer might escort you out the door when you announce you are leaving.

You can be professional about it: document your work and write good, testable code for the next developer..., without leaving yourself in a bind.


Well, if income is of any importance to you (for example, if you have a family to feed), you obviously don't want to do anything to jeopardize having a steady paycheque! Personally, I would find it too risky to even hint that I'm shopping around. I would only inform my current employer after I have been given a solid offer in writing from another place. Otherwise, you run the risk of not getting any new job, and getting terminated at your current one.


I wouldn't be concerned about using your boss as a reference. In my experience most places only contact your references after you have interviewed with them and they are:

  • looking to decide which candidate too choose (e.g. you are tied with someone else)
  • about to give you an offer but would like to verify your abilities etc
  • are concerned about the salary you are asking and want to make sure you are worth it.

For every job I have ever applied for I have provided References available upon request in place of contact details.

This has 2 benefits - you know how closely they are looking at your application, and you know when they are about to contact your references.

So, coming back to the original question, don't sweat telling him, use the above advise, if you get offered a position, then talk to him about it.


While I agree with the top answer for 95% of cases, here is one situation where as much notice as possible is more than just professional courtesy:

When you need to relocate out of the area because of an external factor

This may be related to your spouse or children, or that you just want to get away from the city that you live in, not away from the job per se.

This will give your current employer:

  • A chance to come to a solution that may benefit both of you e.g. telecommuting. As recruiting another person is a major PITA, both in the recruiting time cost and in the time to bring the new person up to speed.
  • if no solution can be agreed, then it gives them ample time to find your replacement and do some sort of handover

I was someone who filled a position of someone who left, but the company at large didn't allow the recruitment process until it was too late (he had already left) and i got no handover time with the old guy. THAT was a PITA...

Again, your relationship with your boss/manager will dictate how you'd procedd in this situation, but if you want to keep things amicable, then it's always good not to piss potential contacts off


Some personal advice. You own your own career. It's not a shame to quit your current position if you believe that your current job doesn't match your expectation. You just make sure it's a right choice and go ahead.

My mentor once told me. Anytime you walked out of one place, walk out as a winner, nont as a loser.


If you want to do internal transfer, you'd better inform your boss as soon as you are ready to go. If you want to quit you current company, I suggest to get an offer first and then give your boss 4-week-notice.


If you need to train a replacement 4 to 6 weeks, if not 4 to 2.


it depends on your relationship with your boss

to play it safe, i would find another job that you like better without using your current boss as a reference, and then - and only then - tell him that you've accepted a better offer

this is an old dilemma - if you're just leaving because of money they might make a counteroffer, but then you would have misled your new employer if you back out


This is your career so you should do what benefits you, which more than likely means dont talk to them until you have a job offer.

If you have a very good relationship with your boss then you could talk to them, but in my opinion there are not many circumstances where this will really benefit you and your career. Although it would help your boss and the company you want to leave.

On references you can often suggest to the new employer that asking for a reference may be awkward and you are reluctant to do so unless its accompanied with a job offer. The standard job offer normally has an 'as long as references are ok' condition in them anyway.

You could also suggest using references from a prior job, or references from colleagues could be used in the interim before any official job offer.


Part of this depends on what kind of relationship I have with my boss. There have been some places where I would be honest and up front about looking at other places for various reasons, e.g. I think the company will go broke, there is more money to be made elsewhere, etc. This does require a rather strong friendship with the boss as well as the likelihood that if they did fire me that I don't think I would be out of work for too long. In one case after the dot-com bust, my boss did encourage me to look for other opportunities and another is where my boss was looking to move on as well so the looking elsewhere wouldn't necessarily be that big a deal. Perhaps your boss has some contacts that could help you land somewhere new.

By contrast, if I have a cold relationship with my boss then I wouldn't let him know until I was turning in my 2 weeks notice as really why should I expose a vulnerability to someone that I don't feel close and trust? This may seem insecure and paranoid but there are times where telling the boss you are looking elsewhere is just askin for trouble.


I would ask you do that when your Boss takes you and your work for granted. That is when I did it..but then i quit.


Surely if your notice period isn't long enough to allow for adequate handover procedures, that's the fault of the company - not your fault for not mentioning anything earlier. concentrate on what's best for you. The company is ultimately interested in itself, so who's looking after you?