“So how’d they find out I was looking for a job?”

Andy, a 20 year veteran of sales, with a stellar track record asks me that on Thursday. He just couldn’t believe that his boss was asking if he was looking for a job. He kept mumbling, “… How’d they know?….How’d they know?”

I explained to him that experience in this profession since 1973 tells me that 98% of the time when a candidate gets “discovered” they got discovered because they told somebody in the company that they were looking for a job. Years ago I used to get all worried for a candidate and counsel with them on all kinds of conspiracy theories as to how the company found out they were looking for a job. But, after a number of years of hearing the real story as to how a candidate’s company finds out there looking to leave, I’m absolutely certain that 98% of the time, it comes from the candidate himself.

In this situation, I had the wisdom of telling Andy that somewhere along the line he mentioned this to someone in the company and it got back to his boss. He was quiet on the other end of the line and then I heard him softly mumble, “… That son of a bitch” and then continued silence. I told him that I bet there was somebody he had discussed leaving with and I bet everything I own that person discussed it with somebody else, who began the conversation with the proverbial, “you can’t tell anybody else but Andy might be looking for a job…” And then that person tell someone else in the same manner and so on and so forth.

In this case, the two people that Andy told where his best friends and he couldn’t imagine them saying anything. But in his heart he knew that one of them did. Now, he was still mad about it, but at least he was man enough to admit that he’s the one that shared the idea with someone else in the company.

He was fortunate that he wasn’t fired on the spot. But he did tell me that his boss, who up until now had been a good friend of his, seemed distant and removed. Both Andy and his boss are very uncomfortable and it’s making it difficult for everyone.

Here’s the lesson: KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT about looking for a job. Tell me, your spouse and then stop! Even if you don’t get fired, and most likely you will be, the relationship you have with all of your superiors is going to deteriorate. It’s just not worth the risk. If you’ve got a job and you’re looking for another one, it’s like having two jobs.

No matter how close your friends are and how much they like you, you can’t afford to get fired. SHUT UP!

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