Looking for a New Job? It Could Get You Fired

Sick of your current job, and thinking about looking for something better? Then you may want to save up enough to pay your bills for a few months, just in case your job searching gets you fired. While many people think they can only be fired for looking for a new job if they do it on their current company's time, that couldn't be further from the truth. Put simply: it is perfectly legal for an employer to fire you for the sole reason that you are looking for a new job.

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(Photo Credit: Sean MacEntee/Flickr)

Dos and Don'ts of Looking for a New Job

Jacquelyn Smith at Forbes reports on the dos and don'ts for those who are looking for work while they are still employed. The advice is broken up into 13 different tips, but it can all basically be broken down into the following:

  • Do not tell anyone at work that you are looking for a new position. Doing so can poison your current working relationships, and if you tell one person, everyone at work will eventually know. This also means that you should not mention your job search on social media, because if you do, it will get back to someone at work. Also, be smart about other obvious signs. Don't wear your interview suit to work and take a long lunch if your normal work garb is a polo shirt and you usually eat at your desk.
  • Do not let prospective employers talk to your current employer and do not use your current employer as a reference unless you know that your current employer will be okay with the fact that you are seeking other employment.
  • Do not post your resume on job boards. Your current employer could see it and fire you.

Even this advice might not be enough to keep your current position safe, as technology continues to both improve and intrude more into our lives. In USA Today, Anita Bruzzese notes that employers might be able to figure out that you are looking to leave your current position just by looking at your social media. Lots of activity updating your LinkedIn profile certainly sends a signal that you are starting to care what potential employers think. And your employer could even use Foursquare to track your movements, to see that you have been visiting competitors or spending a lot of time at the copy center (where you thought you were sneakily printing copies of your resume).

The moral of the story is that under most circumstances you absolutely can be fired if your employer finds out you are looking for a new position. So if you are doing so, take extreme care to insure that your employer does not find out, unless you are certain your employer will be supportive in your search. And, to be safe, be sure your savings account is substantial enough to weather hard times, should the worst happen.

Tell Us What You Think

How do you handle looking for a new job without letting your current employer know? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

5 Comments

  1. 5 John Paul Reeves 25 Sep
    Under UK (and I think its European Law too, though I stand to be corrected) its illegal to fire someone for looking for a job. If that happens the (Ex) employee can sue for constructive dismissal. (And if an employer does do that, they were probably making the right choice to work somewhere else anyway!)
  2. 4 Shenanigans 25 Sep
    How is it possible today, in a "government of the people, by the people, for the people," that the workers of this country who support everything in it on their backs don't have legal or department of labor protection from such a draconian practice as firing someone for upward mobility. It is the antithesis of democracy, capitalism, freedom, and the right to pursue happiness. It is unconstitutional, immoral, and illegal. I call shenanigans. There are only two ways a company would get away with this crap: 1. One signs an agreement that includes something that forbids job searching under penalty of termination (You sign away your rights). 2. One lets a company get away with this crap without putting up a good fight (You give up). Ideolovangelists like the "writer" of this article, who offer no data, references, or concrete facts, only serve to exacerbate an already disturbed and fear-based perception of the job market and employment opportunities in today's economy. Go sell this crap down the street cuz I ain't buyin it.
  3. 3 Ken 07 Aug
    Can you support your comment that it is legal to fire someone for looking for a job. I have been in HR for 30 years and never once heard this.
  4. 2 Anderson 07 Aug
    If you job is really bad, you'd be blessed. If not and you're good (or if they cannot afford loose you), then your company will make some effort to retain you. In either case looking for a job and being transparent about this is not a bad thing. On the other hand, if one is mediocre at work, have little perspectiv elsewhere and probably will be worse off in another job and still you're looking for another job. Then, one should be fired, not for looking, but for being stupid.
  5. 1 Lee 01 Aug
    Hi If companies have a firm stand on firing staff "caught" actively job hunting, what is your take then on this: having their own HR/in-house recruiters trawl LinkedIn to connect with potential candidates and invite them to consider job openings? I am not referring to companies advertising on LinkedIn and allowing candidates to apply.

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