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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 03-Apr-06


Monday 03-Apr-06

The job application dilemma

Not long ago a friend saw an interesting job advertised. It was in the same organization, so there was no chance of quiet application. In any case he does not like going behind people's backs and so spoke with his manager about it, including voicing his concern about leaving them in the lurch.

His manager's response was perhaps predictable and probably not dissimilar to speeches made by many managers before and since. The manager talked about how important the work was and how nobody could do it as well, and so on. And so my friend did not apply.

This raises many questions. Should my friend still have applied? Would doing this 'queer the pitch' for him, making the job less tenable through displayed disloyalty? What should his manager have said?

Questions are always context-dependent, and so are answers. In this case, there was no dark deception. My friend trusts and respects his boss, which led him to talk, but also laid him open to persuasion. But then his boss was genuine too: my friend is uniquely valued and would be hard to replace. If my friend did move to another job, he would have left the organization in the lurch, which is not his way.

So were there winners and losers? Mostly winners, I think. My friend got recognition and his boss got to keep him. Sure he might have ended up with a fancier job, but it might not have worked out.

Overall, it's a tricky dilemma: when and how to put your head above the parapet. Stay where you are and you may be considered loyal and worthy of investment, but can also get stereotyped and dead-ended. Apply for other jobs and you get broad opportunity, but if you fail you may be marked down and get stuck.

Your comments

Maybe following the conversation he could have closed with thanks for the positive feedback on his performance but he would like to speak to HR / the manager for the other position for more information, and to ensure that the necessary succession plans were in place, should he leave his current position

His boss was being perhaps a little selfish, his employee does not seem too inspired following their discussion and I would not be surprised if he saw an external opportunity he would follow it up and leave, if he felt it was the right move for him at that time

-- David Jamieson

Dave replies:

Good thought, David -- thanks. Closure and continuation are significant elements. We often stop something and think it's done when it's not. My friend is still where he was and seems happy. I'll offer him your thoughts when I see him next.

 I think your friend at least should have explored the possibility of the other opportunity. There was no need for him to talk to his boss. If I were him I be taking the other job if it were better than the current one and give my boss two weeks or may be four weeks notice to find my replacement.

In the job market, there is no loyalty form either side ... remember we all accept and sign it, job at will ...

-- Moon

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