Getting out of a job before getting out of a job
January 23, 2013 6:20 AM   Subscribe

I'm an admin in a big corporate firm, but I'm secretly planning to hunt for a new job in a couple weeks. I've just been asked to take on new responsibilities here. Can I get out of this, and if so, how?

The new US-head-of-something-or-other is coming to our office and the business manager has asked if I can take him on as one of the guys I take care of. I'm loath to do so, because with any luck I'll be out of here in a couple months and that would suck for him. But I don't want to tip my hand about the search.

I could claim it's because the new person they gave me to handle two months ago (the GLOBAL-head-of-something-or-other) is keeping me plenty busy (which is also true), but I don't know if this will look bad. My main boss hasn't said anything about this and may be totally unaware she's approaching me.
posted by EmpressCallipygos to Work & Money (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
How loyal would that big corporate firm be to you?

Never, ever tell your boss you're looking for new work. Tell your boss, "I have accepted a new job. This is my two weeks' notice." Take this as a good point to start documenting all of your processes so the next admin will have a complete handbook on How To Do It As Well As EmpressCallipygos Did.
posted by Etrigan at 6:27 AM on January 23, 2013 [16 favorites]

I'm loath to do so, because with any luck I'll be out of here in a couple months and that would suck for him.

How a company/employee fares after you leave isn't really your problem.
posted by srboisvert at 6:27 AM on January 23, 2013 [14 favorites]

Nope, take him on, and when you leave, they'll find someone else to do it. Here's where you need the professional Passive Aggressive (tm) approach:

"Lisa, Leo approached me about taking on Joan Holloway when she comes on-board, I'm concerned about the logistics because I don't want either Joan or Stephanie in Global to not have adequate support. What kinds of things should I be doing to support them both?"

At this point, your boss Lisa should shriek in a horrified voice, "BOTH? What on earth is Leo thinking??"

At some point someone will realize that either it's a bad idea, and perhaps hire someone to take care of Joan, or they'll brush it off. In which case they can't be surprised when you bounce.

You don't owe them anything except your human capital for 8 hours a day.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:32 AM on January 23, 2013 [9 favorites]

If the new arrangement would result in more responsibility, you can respond with something like "I don't feel like this is the best time for me to be taking on more responsibility. I feel like I'm doing well in my current position, and I'd like to stay there if that's an option."

It has the benefit of being completely true, so you're not lying to anyone. At worst, it presents you as being not particularly interested in advancement. This is not a huge negative for you in your current situation.

Furthermore, if your job search doesn't bear fruit, you've still got your current gig at which you already excel.
posted by DWRoelands at 6:32 AM on January 23, 2013 [3 favorites]

I'd just take on the new and be OK with them figuring out how to deal later. That's basically the job of your employer - to handle stuff whether you (person filling this current role) exist or not.

Bonus: you can point to an upward arc at your present job as a sign of how awesome you are.

Bonus bonus: if you don't get the new job right away, maybe this leads to your current job becoming more interesting or lucrative (I know, but one can hope).
posted by zippy at 6:36 AM on January 23, 2013 [5 favorites]

How a company/employee fares after you leave isn't really your problem.

Yes. Just do it and say nothing (assuming, of course, you can actually handle the workload). You don't know how long it will take you to find another job. Even if you leave, the guy is still going to need someone to support him in the next few weeks regardless.
posted by something something at 6:57 AM on January 23, 2013

Yep - take it on anyway. They'll solve the problem when it arises. Don't worry about them; this isn't personal.

Your job search may take longer than you expect, so carry on as if you'll be in your job for some time to come.
posted by Miko at 7:04 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

If your only concern is how people will handle it once you leave, then I say definitely take it on and don't say a word about your job search. If you have legitimate concerns about being able to handle the additional task, feel free to broach that with your boss, but I wouldn't worry about what they do once you leave. Their problem, not yours.
posted by Eicats at 7:12 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Until you have an actual offer in hand, you're not leaving. Take on the responsibility -- your only concern appears to be that it might inconvenience the guy when you leave -- and see if there's a way to use that in your job search.
posted by jeather at 7:12 AM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm in a very similar position to you. I'm just going ahead and taking on the new responsibility and not saying a word right now. It seems like the safest thing to do.
posted by trillian at 7:24 AM on January 23, 2013

Also, it occurs to me that by not telling your boss about your job search (which I am assuming is unrelated to the new responsibilities), you may be helping your successor in this job more. When you quit, your supervisor may well think, "Geez, Empress was awesome, but clearly this was too much work for any one person. I better not do that to the next admin I hire."
posted by Etrigan at 7:45 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

After some thought: my main boss has been meaning to talk to me for a few months about "so how have you been handling the new guy we gave you in November". He's really fair about making sure I'm not being overwhelmed, and especially wanted to check in because one of the guys I had initially been handling was a handful. We just haven't had that meeting yet (he keeps having fires to put out), and this seems like the perfect time to try to press the issue - especially since Handful Guy recently quit himself.

And, I've been meaning to express concern that Handful was impacting how I did with the guy I got in November (and my main boss would totally have backed me on that), so I can spin this like "we need to have this meeting about how I'm doing with Global guy - because Handfull guy was my biggest problem about handling Global guy, so with Handful guy gone that's much smoother. But now they want me to take on New guy and I'd just like your feedback about whehter he's another Handful guy."

and then let him take it from there.

To clarify - HELL NO I'm not telling anyone here about my search. That'd be stupid.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:47 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

I suppose an additional thing you might want to think about is your reason for leaving. It is not stupid to tell an employer you are considering leaving if you have really solid job leads or offers you haven't accepted yet. You will be surprised at what some companies will do to retain an employee they value. I've given notice and been offered 50% raises. I've been offered thousands to stretch my notice out for an extra month. I've been offered different and better jobs.

Companies generally do not like losing people who are sane, responsible and dependable and frequently pay what they can get away with rather than what you are actually worth to them. If you let them know you might leave they may just bring your compensation and treatment in line with your worth to them. If you are being asked to help out heads of departments you are probably valued more than you are compensated.
posted by srboisvert at 10:25 AM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

I suppose an additional thing you might want to think about is your reason for leaving.

I dislike the industry I work in.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:26 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Update: I talked things over with my boss and decided to suck it up.

Only to find out that the new guy may not even be starting with us until MAY, anyway, by which point I will - with any luck - be long gone. So it may be a moot point.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:47 AM on January 28, 2013

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