Last year I registered online for a few of the job search companies – for a loved one who was looking for work.. so I still get emails from Ladders, Monster, etc.

A well meaning company sent me an email today with the following advice:

Specifically, conventional wisdom about the professional job hunt is wrong:

“If my boss finds out, it’s catastrophic for me. Therefore, secrecy is of the utmost importance.”

That paranoia may have been appropriate when you were working summer jobs, or just part of a herd of first-year employees – easily canned, easily replaced – but the world is much different at $100K+.

“Got fired for looking” is extremely rare in professional positions. In fact, in six years here at __________, and from the over 4 million subscribers we’ve had, I’ve heard of only one case – and when I spoke to the employee involved, the bad blood with the boss was already very bad by that time.

The far more likely response of your boss is Relief or Repair.

As a manager, you know how maddening it can be to handle troublesome employees. Just think how difficult it is for you to unload a lazy or ineffective headcount: filling out forms, endless rounds with HR, mandatory job counseling, etc. So finding out that your worker also knows it’s not working and is looking for work elsewhere leads to Relief: “Phew, I’m not going to have pay severance or go through the motions on these confrontational conversations about performance anymore.”

Well, I might agree that getting fired for looking may be rare. BUT getting sued for competing is NOT RARE AT ALL – and neither are breach of fiduciary duty claims which arise from your actions while still an employee.

So I disagree with said head-hunter’s advice. Discretion and organization (ie – having your non-compete employment agreement reviewed by an attorney before you land that new job) is always a good idea.

The group also wrote in the email:

Finally: Please, please, don’t use your company’s e-mail, printers, phones, or stationery. (On the other hand, there is the plain truth in the job hunt business … looking for work takes place during work hours.

AMEN BROTHER. When you leave, and your company sees you spent weeks emailing files to yourself and sending resumes — that is when attorneys are brought in and lawsuits are filed.

Be smart. While the advice of a well meaning recruiting may be right on, each contract and situation is different.

Lauren Ellerman
Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at