You’ve updated your resume. You had that new suit tailored. You’ve even been in touch with some contacts. You’re ready to start interviewing for a new job.
There’s only one problem: You haven’t told anyone at your current job. Should you?
It’s a difficult decision, one that can have a major impact on your career, and there are arguments to be made on both sides. Here are four questions that will help you determine whether to be upfront with your current employer or keep your cards close to your vest.
1. What Is Your Relationship With Your Manager?
In most jobs, your relationship with your manager plays a major role in how happy you are from day to day. You might be friends who go out for drinks after work, professional colleagues who interact only in the office, or anything in between. You likely have a good idea of your boss’s temperament and might have seen how they have reacted when other employees have left the company.
So, if telling your boss is going to send them off the deep end and make your professional life miserable until you get that new position, that could be an indication to hold back.
On the other hand, if you have a more open relationship, telling your manager might be the way to go. Then, your boss can serve as a reference, or you may be able to discuss ways that you can improve your current job so that you might not want to leave after all.
2. What Is Your Company Like?
Similar to gauging your boss’s reaction, you have to know how the larger group you’re in – your team or the company as a whole – will take the news. Some companies expect employees to put in a few years before they move on. Others expect a longer commitment. Still others are used to the revolving door of new hires. Where your company falls on the spectrum and how long you’ve been working there should factor in to your decision.
3. What Are the Potential Consequences?
When you’ve determined how your boss, your team, and the rest of the company might react, it’s time to consider what those reactions mean. You should answer this question from both angles: What are the consequences if you tell? And what are the consequences if you don’t?
If you tell them you’re looking, will your boss freeze you out of potentially interesting projects? Will the company start excluding you from team events? If so, it might be wise to refrain from saying anything until your search comes to an end.
On the other hand, your boss may realize that they haven’t been helping you reach your fullest potential and start giving you more rewarding work. Likewise, your company may realize your value and offer incentives for you to stay.
There’s also the issue of how closely knit your industry is. Is there danger that your boss or someone else in your company could hear that you’ve applied elsewhere from a company you interviewed with? If so, coming clean early might be the wisest move.
4. What Does Your Gut Say?
After careful consideration, you probably know in your heart the right decision. If you’re just getting started interviewing and the search isn’t serious, then you might feel like you can hold off on sharing the news. If telling your manager will have negative repercussions, then your decision is made.
But you might feel like your work is being affected by the secrecy, or you may not want to have to lie about leaving the office earlier than usual to get to an interview. In these cases, being upfront may be the right decision. Despite any other consequences, at least you know everyone’s on the same page and has full information.
After answering these four questions, there is one thing to keep in mind before making your decision: You have to look out for yourself. Make sure you do what’s in your best interest and what’s best for your career. After all, if you don’t, nobody else will.
Amy Klimek is the vice president of human resources at ZipRecruiter.