Here’s the overarching advice about conducting a job search while you’re still employed: Don’t tell anyone at work.
Unless you have bosses who will be absolutely supportive of you and not focused on what your departure means to them or the organization, letting any colleague know that you’re actively job hunting is usually not a good idea.
Your “secret” will leak out, and you may quickly find out just how supportive your supervisors and peers are. Some will immediately brand you as disloyal. Others will think only in terms of the added work your loss could mean for them.
Admittedly, keeping a job hunt quiet is tough, especially if your target companies ask for your current employers as references. You may be able to request confidentiality until you have an offer in writing. It’s worth a try if you fear repercussions.
Getting that firm job offer is the key before you tell your current place that you’re leaving. And once you have it in hand, it’s smart to be very gracious about it. Don’t use the opportunity to say how much you dislike anyone or anything about the place. Remember: They could still be called on as references as your career progresses.
It’s decent and courteous to request a few minutes with your immediate manager and supervisor to let them know that you’ve turned in your resignation. You don’t have to tell them exactly why, and you don’t have to unload the truth if they ask. Better to just follow the standard line of “pursuing a career opportunity.”
You may decide how far in advance you want to tell them you’re leaving. Very few workers have any kind of contract that requires a certain notice period. For most people, there’s no such thing as a two-week notice requirement. But it is something that’s become common practice on the grounds that it gives time to prepare for the transition.
You also may offer to stay on for a longer period before you leave. Some employers will happily welcome that, especially if they will have trouble replacing you. Others will ask you to leave immediately, especially if you’re in a position where they’re concerned about retaining confidential or proprietary information.
If you’ve watched the departures of former colleagues you may have a hint about how to handle your own situation. Whatever the timing, you should strive to be as positive as possible when you tell people.
Here’s another thought about job hunting while on the job: Using a new offer as ammunition to get a raise or a promotion where you are may not be the best long-run tactic. It can cause resentment with bosses and morale issues with colleagues who aren’t playing that negotiation game.
Using that kind of bargaining chip also may not get at the root of the reasons why you looked for a different job in the first place. If all the issues that caused your dissatisfaction aren’t remedied, you could well be job hunting again in a few months.