Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Ask CJ: your boss' friends and acquaintances

From the inbox, this good question: 
CJ, 
Say for example that one is looking at job openings at another company in the same sector. You find someone who would be great for an informational interview. You notice though, that this person is connected to your current boss, whom you have not told about looking for other opportunities. Do you still reach out for an informational interview? Why? 
Unsure reader
Well, UR, it really depends. Helpful answer, I know. If you think your boss and Potential Contact are still friends/acquaintances and you are determined to keep things under wraps, don't reach out. If you think that they are just vaguely acquainted and Potential Contact wouldn't be bothered to reach out to your boss, it might be worth the risk.

Here's the thing, though: if they are the type of person who will accept an informational interview (i.e. they have the generosity of spirit to talk to a potential job seeker), then I believe they are the type of person who might reach out to an old friend and say "just so you know..." So maybe I don't think that reaching out to this particular person is without risk.

Readers, what do you think?  

11 comments:

  1. It also depends on your standing within the organization. If you are getting excellent annual reviews, bonuses, etc., there is actually a strategic component to interviewing. Bosses usually try to keep their best employees, so if word gets out that you're exploring other options, you may see a "soft" counter-offer from your current organization in the form of retention incentives, promotion, or unique assignments. If, however, you are the proverbial cog in the wheel with average performance evaluations, your organization may be less inclined to invest in you if you're perceived as having one foot out the door. I was once advised to interview for at least one new position every year to keep the resume updated and interviewing skills sharp. As far as I know, my career has never been adversely impacted. To the contrary, I think I've benefited from this practice in the long run. But if you play the game, you also have to be ready for someone to call your bluff.

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  2. Junior Assistant PeonSeptember 25, 2019 at 9:43 AM

    Don't get too worried if someone at a target company is connected to your current boss on LinkedIn. 90% of the time, they met each other once at a conference and don't know each other well. I suggest asking the person how he/she knows your boss, and if they aren't close friends, you're probably fine.

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    Replies
    1. For additional context, the person and my boss are connected from Graduate School, and therefore not someone that met at a conference once upon a time.

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    2. UR, I know this isn't going to be helpful, but grad school connections are not uniformly tight. I've got a former labmate who I generally don't reach out to, and I would be surprised if they reached out to me. OTOH, there was a guy in some of my classes but in another department who I keep in pretty regular contact with.

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    3. Junior Assistant PeonSeptember 25, 2019 at 1:23 PM

      Agreed - some of the grad school connections on my LinkedIn are close personal friends, but most are just acquaintances. You're going to need to do a little more probing. Most likely, the person isn't going to snitch you out unless they're a close personal friend of your boss.

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  3. CJ: "Here's the thing, though: if they are the type of person who will accept an informational interview (i.e. they have the generosity of spirit to talk to a potential job seeker), then I believe they are the type of person who might reach out to an old friend and say 'just so you know...'"

    If I think one of my good friends is facing insurrection, I'll reach out to them and try to see that they're aware. However, I will do my utmost to not throw any of their employees under the bus, given that I will almost certainly not know all the relevant details.

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  4. If this informational person is the hiring manager for the position, I would feel it's pretty tacky if the informational guy is asking your current boss about you. Now, if you are just looking to speak to some random person you found on the internet that works at that company, then I would say definitely do not ask that person at all. Maybe message them to ask if they know someone in a different department in the best case...

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    Replies
    1. I'll keep looking for a job for now, but I've kept your number in case things get a bit more desperate closer to Christmas.

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  6. This is a dilemma where to me Chemistry/Pharma can be a smallish world where cross connections are common, directly or indirectly, and keeping secrets difficult, particularly about active job searches. Previously for the most part one could strongly rely on people's integrity when requested confidentiality however such attitudes do not appear to be tat reliable at present. Unless you have some awareness about the character of the people you wish to speak upfront sharing info. especially negative views, should be avoided as likely to do harm to you and not those who may be accurately portrayed as poor managers.

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