The Last Taboo Topic: Your Job Search
In the age of oversharing online, searching for a job seems to be the one topic no one is willing to discuss.
In a recent survey of 10,000 job seekers from around the world, Indeed found that 65 percent of job seekers worry about other people finding out they’re on the hunt for a new job. Twenty-four percent of job seekers said their job search was the topic they’d be least likely to talk about on social media. Personal finances were the only other topic about which job seekers were equally reticent.
When you think about it, it all makes sense. In much of the US, workers have limited employment protections. An employer can fire you for pretty much any reason, including no reason at all. If your boss knows you’re looking for a new job, they may perceive you to be disloyal – and disloyal employees are often let go.
Your boss doesn’t even have to give you advanced warning. How many of us know someone who walked into the office expecting a normal day and walked out carrying all of their personal items in a small cardboard box? How many of us have been that person? That horrific and embarrassing scenario is enough to make a person never want to talk about their job search with anyone else ever again.
Talking with Indeed about the study, behavioral economist Paul Dolan of the London School of Economics noted another aspect of our reluctance to discuss our job searches: our need to be seen as successful.
“Admitting that we are looking for a job means exposing others to our potential success or failure,” Dolan said. “To avoid embarrassing ourselves, we choose to hide our searches.”
We’re not just worried about how our colleagues and professional contacts will see us, either. Indeed’s survey found that half of job seekers don’t even tell their partners when they are applying for a new job.
While that number may seem shocking, it shouldn’t be. If you’re searching online, you may apply to a large number of jobs before landing a first-round interview. If it takes 30 applications to land one phone interview, who wants to tell their partner about 30 different job applications – especially when 29 of those applications may turn out to be failures?
That said, keeping career changes from your partner isn’t recommended. Your career greatly impacts your personal life, and if you’re sharing that life with someone else, your decisions will impact them, too.
When it comes to your colleagues, however, there is good reason to be cautious. Even if you’re doing a great job in your current role, your boss may have second thoughts about you if they know you’re looking. When you tell others about your search, you risk losing control of your search.
A version of this article originally appeared in the Memphis Daily News.
Angela Copeland is a career coach and CEO at her firm, Copeland Coaching.