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Can You Be Fired for Looking for Another Job? (Fully Explained)

Oftentimes we end up on jobs that we don’t like. And sometimes it is the environment of our current work place that makes us want to hunt for a new job. Whatever the cause might be you can’t just quit our current one. Because you won’t have a way to pay your bills during that jobless timeframe. So, one might wonder, can you be fired for looking for another job?

Yes, your employers have every right to fire you if they find out that you are looking for another job. However, if you play your cards right the chances of them finding out is pretty slim. So, there is no reason for you to be worried about getting fired while looking for a job.

In this article, I will be thoroughly explaining everything you need to know about looking for another job while maintaining your current one. So, be sure to read this article till the end.

Can Your Employers Legally Fire You for Job Hunting?

"Is that even legal?" You might ask. And yes, it's perfectly legal in almost every state to let you go once they've discovered that you've been looking to get employed by someone else. The EEOC [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] is responsible for making sure that no employee or applicants applying for a job are being discriminated against.

It enforces federal laws that will make sure that employees are well taken care of and not judged based on the color of their skin, the religion they wish to follow, their nationality, gender, or any other disability or genetic information. But even they are unable to protect an employee from getting fired because of looking for work while employed.

It is very important to understand that employers are not just sacking workers left and right simply for job hunting. It’s not as severe as that. But just to be clear, you go around calling in sick and missing important meetings just to go to that one job interview, chances are that they won’t think twice about letting you go once they figure it out.

As you’re already not protected by the state from getting fired for looking for other employment, most states will hold the power to let you go. But that’s not the only reason for them to do so.

What Are the Reasons for You to Look for Another Job?

There is simply no reason for you to fear getting fired if you’re already not satisfied with your workplace. If you feel uneasy working at your firm, the chances are that you might not even be a good fit for it. There’s no shame in admitting that either.

Millions of people all around the world feel the same way. And if the only barrier keeping you from applying elsewhere is the chances of getting laid off, then you shouldn’t be doing that job in the first place.

There could be countless reasons for you to not continue to work at your current workplace. You may wish to not disclose them with your current employers due to privacy concerns. It can also be due to the fact that you might feel under-appreciated for your work.

The environment plays a major role, if any employee feels neglected or judged in a certain atmosphere, they have the utmost right to feel the need to exit that place. But there are a few questions and doubts that they will have nonetheless.

The environment, the people and even the food can be a reason for you to not wish to stay there any longer. It doesn't have to be a solid reason. What you need to realize is that you will always hold the right to step down from employment whenever you see fit.

There is no reason for you to be toiling away in a job you don’t like just because you are afraid of disappointing your superiors. There is nothing worse than just getting stuck on a job you don’t like. It’s almost like paid slavery if that makes any sense. So, it is your fundamental right and a duty to yourself to pursue jobs that you want.

Should You Tell Your Employers That You Are Looking for Another Job?

This is a very common question for any individual while looking for a job online. Should you tell your employers? Will they be eligible to fire you once they discover that you've been job hunting and posting your CV and resume online? The answer is not as simple as a yes or no and there are various other aspects that need to be taken under consideration.

In a legal sense, your employers hold the power to fire you once they figure out that you've been going around giving other interviews while still employed at their firm. But will they always do so? Not quite.

It’s widely known that firing a person for simply asking for a raise is indeed a bad practice that should be avoided at all costs. Just like that, letting someone go just on the basis that they’re now looking for another job is also very absurd and inappropriate. And hence in most cases, they’re unlikely to do so.

But try to understand that if you’ve spent years training an employee and they decide to just bail without much to say, it’s obvious that this will hold grounds for your employers to be severely upset with you. They will be annoyed, feel betrayed.

Additionally, if your employers are already not content with your performance, news of your job hunt will further rub them the wrong way and they will be more eager to let you go.

If you want to be open and honest with your current employers, make sure you have enough cash at hand so that even if you get fired, you won’t be thrown to the streets.

It’s very important to stay sufficient before taking such a major step with dire consequences. Make sure you have everything you need to survive so that you don’t starve yourself or go homeless before you can find that new job.

What is an At-Will Employment?

At-will employees are those who can be fired without any notice and at any time without giving a particular reason. The plus point in this is that an at-will employee can also quit whenever they want without giving out a notice beforehand.

But the employers are not allowed to breach or violate any federal law associated with employment while doing so.

There may be quite a few exceptions to at-will employment. For example, public sector workers cannot be fired unless they do something that violates public policies. Hence, employers will not be allowed to fire them whenever they want.

Can You Be Asked Whether You’re Looking for a Job or Not?

Absolutely! Employers will always hold the right to ask you whether you’re looking for other opportunities or not. In the same instance, you also have every right to not tell them the truth. This is solely based on what you want to do.

Then again, if you think about it carefully, once you get asked about your employment ventures, you can also use this environment to show honestly. This may be a great opportunity to tell them why you might be looking to shift elsewhere.

Or you can just choose to avoid the whole situation by just telling them that it might've been a rumor that just got blown out of proportion. Whatever it is, just don't make it too obvious and give in to the situation. Be firm with your stance and show integrity.

Can Your Employers Find Out That You’re Looking for Another Job?

They won't know for sure that you're looking for employment elsewhere. But they are competent enough to pick up clues and hints here and there that will lead to them believing that you've been looking for work elsewhere.

So what may cause them to think that? For that, you should ask yourself a few questions. Try to think about what you've been doing around the office that has led them to believe that you're willing to leave the place once you find a better suitable workplace.

Have you been calling in sick too often? Are you taking more calls that are not your current office work-related? What if you're coming in late or leaving early these days?

But the most detrimental one would be if you've been talking about your job hunt with your fellow employees. That's the worst of them. If you've been telling your colleagues and doing things that are obvious to your co-workers and employers that you're job hunting, be sure to get that call from HR regarding it.

So here's a little advice, if you don't want your supervisors to find out about your job hunt, don't make it obvious to your co-workers as well. No matter how close you might think you are, a lot of things go down in an official environment. And news spreads at the speed of light so be careful about the things you share.

Let's be clear on this. If you're using your office hours for interviews and not communicating with your bosses and colleagues and going out to interviews too often, of course, they hold the right to stop you and even fire you.

You should go back and think about the time when you first applied for your current job. Your employers made sure that you were properly trained and even paid a huge amount of money to get you ready for the job. For you to waste such resources and afterward leave the company would come as a shock and not to mention anger your employers.

How to Discreetly Look for Another Job While Employed?

The most possible scenario is that your employers won’t take a liking to your sudden decision to hunt for a new job. So, here are some tips on maintaining discretion while hunting for a job:

Keep it a secret

There are multiple ways that you can continue to hunt for your new job and at the same time, keep the current one at hand. But you have to be very careful and not go out of your way to make it obvious to your current employers.

The first thing would be to keep it a secret. Don’t go around telling people and posting about it online. If you’re posting about it, it just means that you want the whole world to know that you can’t wait to leave your current job at hand.

No matter how much you might trust someone, it won't take long for them to go behind your back if they feel the need to. Words travel very fast and eventually, the whole office will know that you've been looking for work which won't sit well with your employers.

Make sure your new employers don’t connect with your old ones

Make sure that you don't let your future prospective employers have a conversation with your current ones. At times, it might be required as a reference. But it’s best to not go down that path. If you haven’t told your current employers that you’re leaving your job, nothing good will come from your future employers having a word with them

Just try to be discreet and avoid this situation altogether. You might be able to tell your prospective employers that such a meeting will not be possible or just go ahead and tell them that you haven't informed your current employers about the job hunt.

Keep away from social media

Do not post anywhere. This is so important and you need to understand that once your current employers get a whiff of your job-hunting activities, they might consider firing you for not being honest with them. If you haven't told your current employers, you don't need to go ahead and inform the rest of the internet

And especially don't post it on job boards. If you think about it, your employers might also use these job boards to hire future employees. How would they take it if they saw a current employee's CV on the board that they're using to hire new employees?

Don’t go around updating your LinkedIn profile while you’re hunting for that job. If you must do so, there is an option to turn off the update network feature. Updating your features and other networks is understandable if you’re regularly active on your LinkedIn.

But once you start doing that just before job hunting, your employers will understand that you’re up to something. You can just choose to turn off the notification so that others are not informed of your activities online. Just let your future prospective employers and recruiters know about the updated profile

Avoid office hours while hunting for your new job

If you've made up your mind and are adamant about scoring that job interview, don't do it during office hours. You should still be respectful of the position that you currently hold and show it integrity.

Be professional and go to that interview during your free time. Book that appointment once your office is over. Even though you might not feel like working your current job the way you used to, you need to show it the same level of respect that you did before all this.

Be truthful to your new employers

Be truthful about your current occupational status with your new employers. If they don't want to employ an already employed worker, you can just look for another job. But the chances of this happening are slim.

They will be more willing to work with you if you have a very strong resume and seem competent enough to be an asset to them. If that's the case, you can pick and choose the time most convenient for you

What to Do If You’re Working Full-Time?

If you’re working full-time, things can get a bit more difficult for you. You will have to work hard to find time in between office hours or vacation days to call in for that interview.

The positive side to this is that employers are very eager to hire workers who are employed. This gives them a heads up that you know your way around an office space.

So use those vacation days and nail that interview because that's the best way to go. If you still think that you won't be able to pull that off, you can choose to call in sick.

That will be the more unethical approach and it's best to avoid it while you can. Because once you continue to do it, your boss will know that something is up and they might pull the plug on you soon afterward.

Try to Treat Your Current Employers with Respect

Be honest with your current employers if they’ve always shown you respect. There is no reason to hide the reason why you’re looking for employment elsewhere. 

But then again, if it’s the complete opposite, and your bosses have been nothing but horrible to you and the workplace has given you nothing but anxiety and depression, there is no reason for you to worry about what they might think.

You can turn this around and think from their perspective as well. If you’ve been an amazing and stellar employee, chances are that they will be more than happy to have you around for the long run. That is to say that you haven’t given them any reason to think otherwise.

On the other hand, if you're a below-average employee who hasn't shown much competence in the workplace, they will not consider keeping you around once they've realized that you've been looking for work somewhere else.

And why would they? Would you consider keeping a worker, who hasn't been doing their job appropriately, employed? Your skills and dedication are what they want. If you're unable to give them enough, they will not feel the attachments to keep you onboard once they realize that you're not in it for the long haul.

All of this might sound scary and it can lead to you being hesitant while looking for that job but once you think about it more closely, you'll realize that you don't have much to lose. The best thing about looking for a job while employed is that even if you don't get the job you're looking for, you'll still have your current job.

You shouldn’t feel too big of a pressure and look for that job at your own pace. Your greatest concern should be finding a job that will best suit you. Hope after reading this article you now have a clear idea of whether or not, can you be fired for looking for another job. Wishing you the best of luck with your job hunt and I hope that you land on one that you truly love and feel comfortable working in.

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Author Ferdi
Written by Ferdi Vol
Ferdi Vol has been working for a grocery store for the last few years and he knows all the ins and outs of running a grocery store. He's also got great tips about what you need to know as a customer, from getting the most out of your money to knowing where everything is in the store! Ferdi loves sharing his passion with others via his blog on how to have an awesome shopping experience at your local grocery store.
About Ferdi Vol
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