Taking time off from my new job to interview for another one. Umm... that'll work.
March 9, 2007 7:40 PM   Subscribe

I just started a great new job. My dream company just called to offer an interview. I have no idea how I should handle all this.

I wanted to ask now because of the anonymous time delay and to avoid my current boss possibly finding out.

I started a new job four weeks ago, and it's great. I don't have any dreams of staying there for years or anything, but I certainly don't want to lose it and the pay is good.

For the last three or four years I have wanted to work at a particular company. After almost a year of sending 12-14 applications to 12-14 different positions, I was called up and asked to do a phone interview (I'm on the East Coast and this company is in Atlanta). They tell me that if they hired me, they are looking for someone who could start within 2-4 weeks. I am very sure that if they like me over the phone, they will ask me to fly down to Atlanta for a face-to-face. I am also sure that if I mess this up I'll probably lose any future chance of ever working for my dream company again.

If I was offered a job at the dream company, I'd take it in a heartbeat; that's not the issue. The issue is how I should handle this with my current job. They have been very great to me and are very supportive of having me as an employee. In fact, my current job is without a doubt a better one than the one I'm interviewing for, but my dream company is one I would be able to work at for years and advance whereas I would not be able to here. My current job is a salaried position at an established organization but one that I would never advance in and would likely stay at no longer than a year or two; the dream job's offer would be for an entry-level training program that does not actually guarantee employment but would be a foot in the door at a company I would love to spend the rest of my life working at, and I would be nuts not to take the opportunity if I was offered it. Ultimately, I would be happy being at either job. I just don't want to become miserable being at neither.

Considering the likelihood I am going to have to explain why I suddenly need a day off, the way I see it, I have the following options:

1. Tell my boss nothing, make up an excuse to be out if necessary, and pray to god the potential job doesn't call up anyone at my current job to ask about me.

2. Be completely honest with my boss, emphasizing (this is true, BTW) that I am NOT actively looking for another job, but it is literally this specific company and this specific company alone that I dream of working for, and I couldn't possible say no to an interview, and let the chips fall where they may.

The worst-case scenario, of course, is that I get fired for looking for another job and fail to get the new one. On a financial and frankly psychological level I don't know how I'd handle that, and that's the possibility that's going to have me awake all of tonight. I can't lose my job, and I can't simply refuse to interview for a dream job and spend the rest of my life thinking "what if."

An obviously, I would love it if I could take choice #2 with more confidence but I honestly don't know how my boss would react if I told her. If I had been here for a year I'd take #2 no question, but after only a month I'm literally 50/50 on "she'll understand and tell me of course I should try to follow my dream" and "maybe we should just hire someone else who's more committed to this organization."

If anyone has every had an experience remotely like this, I would love to hear how you handled it. My phone interview will be on Tuesday, and if anything progresses beyond that, I'll have to make my decision right afterwards as to what, if anything, i tell my current boss.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (28 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Be honest! Everyone has dreams and aspirations, even your new boss. If he/she's in any way resonable, which it sounds like they are, they should understand. Emphasize what you said in your post, that you weren't actively looking for another job, but this is something you've been wanting for a long time, and you're going to see if it pans out.
posted by dantekgeek at 7:46 PM on March 9, 2007

You are sick. That sucks, but you will be back at work in a day or two when you are better. Best of luck to you in your interview.
posted by caddis at 7:53 PM on March 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

I would go for 1a: Tell your boss nothing, make up an excuse if necessary, and ask the dream job place not to contact your present employer. (This is a common and reasonable request.)

I don't see any reason for you to confide in your present employer. It's all downside; there's no upside.

When you get an offer, that's when you tell them you love them but you have to follow your dream.
posted by ottereroticist at 7:57 PM on March 9, 2007

Tell your boss nothing.

Tell the dream company that your boss (and everyone else at the current company) doesn't know you're looking, and that they're not to blow your cover. This isn't as uncommon as you'd think.

Then take a personal day off.... you know, the kind you'd take if you were sick, or if you had to have your eyes checked in the morning and then spend the afternoon recovering from the dialation (or had your teeth drilled, or whatever).

If you get the dream job, apologize to your current boss. If you don't get the dream job, then thank your lucky stars that your current employer is none the wiser.
posted by toxic at 7:59 PM on March 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

I am not sure I would tell your boss either, but I would just take a personal day and not say something like "I can't come in. I have Spontaneous Hydrodentalplosion, and I am thus too ill to come to work, what with the melting teeth and all."

When you get the new job, do you really want to have to say to these people who have been good to you, "When I said to you I had Spontaneous Hydrodentalplosion and you believed it, I was really in Atlanta trying out for the Braves. By the way. I quit."
posted by 4ster at 8:12 PM on March 9, 2007

toxic has it exactly right. Tell them nothing. You owe them nothing and they understand it. You are a commodity, don't forget it. As a commodity it is up to you to sell yourself. There is literally no one who is going to take care of yourself more than you. Forgetting that is folly.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:15 PM on March 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

I disagree heartily with dantekgeek. Whatever your manager's dreams and aspirations, this is business, and it's foolish to rely on the presumed goodwill of a boss you hardly know.

Very similar situation happened to me a year ago -- I was happy at my current co, all things very stable, and I got headhunted out of the blue to apply for what was basically a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (small niche market, very few openings in the country, etc).

Here's what I did, and what I recommend*:

Tell your contact at Dream Company the naked truth: the Current Company does not know you are considering another position, and because you have only been with Current Co. for a month, you need to maintain total discretion while you are interviewing. I think the language I specifically used was, "I want to be respectful of my employer, and not inconvenience my team or jeopardize my current position while Dream Co and I investigate a possible future relationship. I appreciate your discretion."

Dream Co. will understand, and will not contact Current Co. for a reference. This really does happen more than you might think; it doesn't make you seem sketchy to Dream Co. But, communicate openly; don't leave it up to "I pray to God they don't call them!!!"

(Besides, if Dream Co wants you, they aren't hiring you based on strictly the strength of whatever might be said in a month-old reference anyway. Seriously: "Filled out his/her I-9 quite promptly"? "Excelled at watching the diversity training videotape"? No real loss.)

Explain to Dream Co. during your phone interview that, because you do not plan to alert Current Co. until you are prepared to give official notice, that they need to schedule the Atlanta interview for a Monday morning first thing.

(which will allow you to get into ATL over the weekend, and be rested Sunday night, then interview in the AM, fly home in the PM, and back into Current Co. office the next day. Hopefully, to give notice! But most importantly, you are placing the least possible amount of hardship on Current Co. by only being absent one workday.)

Then, tell your boss at Current Co. that you have had an unexpected personal situation arise (which is truth!), and you need to take the Monday off. If you have not accrued any personal time off yet, offer to take a day without pay. (Besides, by the time Dream Co. is bringing you to Atlanta, odds are good you'll be going home with an offer.)

If you don't get an offer from Dream Co., never speak of it at Current Co. Really, never.

If you do get an offer from Dream Co, it won't feel great to break the news, but just remember you're doing it in the interest of career advancement and professional growth, and a good boss will respect that. (In fact, a good manager has dealt with this before; good managers often lose people to better opportunities and it's a compliment to their own skills.)

Try to offer Current Co. four weeks' notice -- but be prepared to receive pay in lieu (i.e. they'll release you immediately and mail you a check for the wages owed through the end of pay period). You've not been around long enough to assist in finding/training your replacement, so you're just a sitting duck liability to HR. It's nothing personal.

And, congrats either way -- it's a nice place to be, to get to ponder working at either of two good jobs for good companies.

*Caveat: I recommend all this based on the assumption that Dream Co and Current Co are not competitors or affiliates, and that you are not going to be tied up in a non-compete agreement or any ethics/conflict of interest issues. I know the validity of non-competes varies from state to state, but it complicates things regardless. If you are under a non-compete with Current Co and get an offer, you might be better off investigating your options of having them release you under the ostensible "trial period" that most employers slip into your work agreement, than resigning. You might be damaged goods to Dream Co if you come to them having violated someone else's non-compete.
posted by pineapple at 8:35 PM on March 9, 2007 [6 favorites]

(or, you know, what everyone else said while I was crafting a novel up there)
posted by pineapple at 8:36 PM on March 9, 2007

Tell your boss nothing.

It's hard to emphasize this enough. If you get the dream job (some sort of actual agreement, a start date, etc.), then you can sit down and have the discussion, but until then you should keep it to yourself.
posted by bshort at 8:54 PM on March 9, 2007

Pineapple has it nailed.

I just want to add to the chorus saying that you don't owe your employer anything. Work decisions are about what's best for you - you should always act in your own best interests.

When the time comes to leave your current job just be honest and tactful. It's not somthing they'll give you a hard time about. And if they do, it's not a place you'd have been happy working for in the long run anyway.

Good luck!
posted by aladfar at 9:01 PM on March 9, 2007

Agreed. Tell your current boss nothing, and ask Dream Company not to contact them. They should be okay with that (and as pineapple says, it's not like your current boss can evaluate you yet anyway. you can also point that out.)

If Dream Co. defies all logic and blows your cover, then perhaps they are not so dreamy after all. And since you have been at your current company for a short period of time, you might be able to get away with explaining to your boss that you submitted the application to Dream Co. before starting your current position.
posted by donajo at 9:09 PM on March 9, 2007

One caveat... if you signed a no-compete, you might be in trouble legally with your current employer by taking your dream job. But still, this does not mean that you are obligated to tell them about the interview, IANAL.
posted by |n$eCur3 at 9:41 PM on March 9, 2007

you might be able to get away with explaining to your boss that you submitted the application to Dream Co. before starting your current position

Quoted for emphasis: this is an excellent point. When you give notice and explain, you can do so with a clear conscience -- you really did not go out seeking this job while employed with Current Co... and when Dream Co decided to call you up, they couldn't have possibly known you'd accepted another offer. Everyone has acted in good faith.

Something else which you've likely already thought of but bears underlining: don't use Current Co resources to communicate with Dream Co. Use your cell phone, on lunch breaks... use your personal email address, etc.
posted by pineapple at 9:45 PM on March 9, 2007

Do what you have always done and you will get what you have always gotten.

Beware those who tell you to lie or deceive. They generally live in fear and distrust of others and this is what makes the world suck most of the time. I mean, c'mon... what great relationship or accomplishment in your past ever started with a lie?

Tell the truth and take what you get.
posted by pissfactory at 9:50 PM on March 9, 2007

You absolutely shot not tell your current employer. Unless you have some explicit arrangement with them, you owe them nothing but to do a good job for as long as you work there. If you tell them and don't get the Dream Co. job, ill will with your current employer is too likely.

Basically, absolutely nothing could can come of telling your current employer, but bad might.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 10:24 PM on March 9, 2007

I say it is okay not to tell your current job anything up to the point you accept an offer. I do draw a distinction between not telling and lying: when I have interviewed at my own discretion while working I have simply requested necessary personal time off. In this case I would make it clear to my potential employer that my current employer was not aware that I was investigating another option. This is commonplace in business. As to the ethics of it, I have seen repeatedly in business the situation where the management does not share plans clearly directly relevant to the lives and expectations of employees: further I do not consider my employer to have the right to know how I dispose of my personal time.

Telling is of course a coin toss. It could certainly get you fired, but then it could very well not either. Probably the worst case scenario is that you don't get the dream job - even if your employer is glad to have you around for a while longer in their mind (given your honesty) you will always be ready to jump at an opportunity to work for this company. Which honestly is reasonable. Still, I say if you can call some place your dream company with a straight face you owe it to yourself to go for it. Regardless, the worst that can happen is that you get let go at your current company, and that kind of thing can happen any time anyway.
posted by nanojath at 11:52 PM on March 9, 2007

Yeah, definitely don't tell the current one, as even the nicest of bosses can flip personalities in a heartbeat when he finds out about things like this.

Also, I find it weird that this dream company would even know where you're working now? Don't put it on your résume. You've only been there a few weeks!
posted by wackybrit at 2:06 AM on March 10, 2007

Everybody optimizes.

I suggest one NEVER turn down a chance to interview. How else are you going to know?

You don't REALLY have a big problem until you have an OFFER from Dream Co.

Discretion, as pineapple says, is warranted.

Rest assured, if your current company needed to dump you after one month with them, they would. They are not going out of business because you leave... whether at your choice or theirs.

Do the interview. See what's out there. Make sure you have no regrets, regardless of which one you choose.

Good luck!
posted by FauxScot at 4:57 AM on March 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

Don't lie, just don't elaborate. A bunch of my co-workers left, I knew everybody was job hunting because I'm the guy everybody comes to for help on interview questions. I really liked these guys but I was really ticked off that they claimed they were sick, especially because one guy managed to get me involved with the lie. Just say you need the day off for personal reasons.
posted by substrate at 5:23 AM on March 10, 2007

Don't lie, just ask for a personal day. They probably will just say yes without asking why. That's pretty much what personal days are for--dealing with personal stuff. If they ask why, you can be vague, just say you have some personal business to attend to, whatever.

I also wanted to say, though, don't be so sure that if you don't knock this one out of the park, you've blown your chances. In my experience it's easier to get another interview at the same company for a different job, as long as you don't royally screw up. I work at one of those places many people consider their "dream company," a major New York media company that's a real tough nut to crack as far as getting an interview. But the job I have now is the third one for which I interviewed there.
posted by lampoil at 6:09 AM on March 10, 2007

Easier to get another interview than it was to get that initial interview, I mean. Mainly because you have a specific person to write to and say "I was considered for x, I see y is now open, I wonder if you might consider me again?" Rather than just sending your resume into the HR void. Anyway, though, deal with this interview first, of course.
posted by lampoil at 6:12 AM on March 10, 2007

FWIW, back before I became self-employed I always told my boss if/when I was interviewing for another position. His take was that it's important to look around and know your worth, since the grass isn't always greener, and that it's important to network and keep your interview skills sharp, since there is no guarantee in the modern economy that the job you have today will be there tomorrow. So, he always wished me luck, then was happy when I came back and stayed with him longer.

YMMV, of course. No need to lie, but no need to provide full disclosure why you need a personal day if doing so makes you uncomfortable.
posted by Robert Angelo at 8:09 AM on March 10, 2007

Don't tell them. They don't want to know, believe me. There's nothing wrong with what you are doing, but it could create some awkward moments. You're boss might even say: Why did you tell me?

Either take a personal day and if asked why say "it's personal". Or, take a sick day. When you take your sick day, do not elaborate, just write an email to the office saying you are not feeling well and will not be coming into work that day. If asked specifically what was wrong later, again, keep it simple and say something about an upset stomach or just feeling really wiped out and not knowing why, etc. These are really your days to take. If you use up your sick days and still need one or two, you pay for it.
posted by xammerboy at 8:21 AM on March 10, 2007

Beware those who tell you to lie or deceive. They generally live in fear and distrust of others and this is what makes the world suck most of the time. I mean, c'mon... what great relationship or accomplishment in your past ever started with a lie?

Are you kidding? This is BUSINESS not marriage.

Anonymous - I was in the exact same situation as you two years ago when I started my current position. I got my job fairly quickly after moving here and after having applied to many other positions. I needed a job, they gave me an exploding offer, I took it. Shortly after I started, another place I'd applied to (that I would've LOVED to have worked for) gave me a call. I didn't tell anyone at work, scheduled a "doctor's appointment" on a Friday morning and just took a personal day to take care of it.

I DID NOT get my dream job, and had to stay in my current position, and I'm really glad I didn't tell anyone about it because it would've been incredibly awkward afterwards.

Think about it - if you tell your manager about the interview and then end up not getting your dream job, he'll still consider you a "flight risk" and it's possible that he won't trust you going forward which may end up limiting your opportunities at your current company. Your manager may be the greatest guy in the world, but again, this is business, and he has to look out for himself. Definitely don't tell him.
posted by echo0720 at 8:34 AM on March 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

You've only been working for your current, great job for 4 weeks? Don't mention in on your resume, and don't list anyone as a contact/reference.

There's always the chance that the dream job won't come through this time, and that you'll have to submit application #14 before getting the dream company position in Atlanta, and it sounds like the great job would be a, er, *great* place to work until then.

And, may I suggest, when it comes to the actual leaving (if/when you get the dream job) be honest yet succinct. Expect them to be annoyed, whether it is in 2 weeks or 12 months.
posted by arnicae at 3:33 PM on March 10, 2007

When you go to your boss and say you need a day off to deal with a personal matter, you are being honest. Your boss may wonder if there's an abortion, or a court case or whatever, but it shouldn't a big deal. I think it's really cheesy to use sick time.

Good luck; I hope DreamCo makes you a fabulous offer.
posted by theora55 at 6:24 PM on March 10, 2007

Am I the only one who saw this part?

the dream job's offer would be for an entry-level training program that does not actually guarantee employment but would be a foot in the door at a company

I agree completely with the emphasized need for discretion, but Anonymous needs a backup plan. If this is accurate, this is more of a trial than an actual job. It would be crappy to give up a decent job to chase a phantom that really isn't an offer of employment.
posted by dr_dank at 8:27 AM on March 12, 2007

Try not to forget that as much as you love the dream company, this is a case of unrequited love. There's no guarantee that you'll be able to work there for as long as you hope to; you will still be a 'commodity' to them. I think you need to replace this your dream with something better!
posted by Nwoke at 9:20 PM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

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