Informing Boss Of Applying For A Job Change

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about applying for another job:

How do I write a letter informing my boss that I’m applying for another job within the same company?

Signed, Applying

Dear Applying:

Your “how” question also is a “why” question. Why write a letter? The answer to that probably is that you think that it would be good that you inform your boss you are applying for another job rather than that she/he learn that from some other source. You don’t want her/him learning you are applying to be a surprise. Because???

Because you sense that she/he might not take that information well. She/he might feel rejected, that you do not like working under him/her. Right? Depending on one’s boss-bossed relationship, learning that a subordinate is applying for another job could have different results. If you boss thinks you are a problem-employee, she/he could be pleased to get rid of you. If you are a much-valued employee, your boss could feel like learning a lover is applying for a divorce. However, getting news of your application need not be unhappy if your lines of communication are open.

Communication about this topic can be: 1. Face to face before you apply, 2. Face to face after you apply, 3. In writing before you apply, 4. In writing after you apply, 5. An explicit announcement from someone else orally or in writing and 6. By rumor or gossip.If you were the boss, how would you like to learn that one of your subordinates was applying for another job within the company? How would you feel if you learned one of your employees was talking with co-workers about finding a job elsewhere? I expect that you would think that was unprofessional. How would you feel if you got a note from her/him saying, “I am applying for a job in the purchasing department”? Might you feel that this subordinate is formally telling you that he/she would prefer to work elsewhere and for someone else and feared to tell you face to face?

I imagine you would like to know that before she/he was applying. You probably would like to be told before rather than to receive that information in writing after the application had been made. You probably would like to be asked for your advice before she/he applies rather than to be told by the subordinate, such as, “Jane, I see that there is a job posted for accounting in that department, I am interested in applying. Do you think I might be qualified for that job?”Get my point? Ideally a boss/bossed relationship should include conversation about career concerns. Ideally a boss initiates talk with each of his/her associates about “how things are going” and what are her/his career possibilities, dreams and plans.

Ideally a boss alerts each employee of opportunities for advancement and/or job enrichment opportunities. In your case, since you ask “How do I write a letter informing my boss . . .?”, it is apparent that you have not had on-going conversation about your career with your boss.

Sooo might not now be a time for you to begin such a conversation? Even if you think your boss is aloof, disinterested, or might resent you applying elsewhere, might not it be good to get her/his advice? Most bosses would like to know about subordinates’ career interests and would like to be included rather than to learn after the fact that they have accepted another job. This does not mean that such conversation should occur every week or month, but it might come up at certain times in your working life, especially when you are a younger employee. That is a time when you probably would want to develop other skills and get training or experiences that would make you more valuable to your company or elsewhere. These thoughts, no doubt, range across the topic more broadly than you expected.

The fundamental principle is that written communication is best when it is important to have a record of an action and written is more formal and usually considered more important. Oral communication is less formal, however, is more personal and tentative because usually there is a more immediate opportunity and expectation for feedback and amplification. Use both oral and written communication for important matters. Timing is important. Usually superiors prefer the “no surprise” message. The most basic rule of thumb when applying for another job is to put your self in the other person’s shoes. I wish you well.

Don’t allow not being accepted when you apply for another job to sour you in your present position. Persist in exploring ways to make your self more valuable in your current job. Don’t be ever looking for something better. But don’t hesitate to keep your eyes open and to make your self more qualified for the kind of work that interests you. Those individuals are happy who are in love with their work. Working together with skilled hands, smart head, and warm heart takes and makes big WEGOS.

William Gorden