my boss found out I’m job-hunting

A reader writes:

I’m a few years into my current job and decided that I want to move into a different field that is tangentially related to my current field. After a long job search process and many interview rounds, it’s finally down to me and just one other candidate for a position in the field I’m interested in transitioning into. After the final round, HR told me that if they ask to contact my references, it means I’m the top candidate. As long as reference checks go smoothly, I’d be getting an offer. I was required to put down my current manager as a reference so I did so, but I felt confident that all of my references (even my current boss) would give me positive reviews.

It’s been about two weeks since that final interview and I haven’t heard anything, even after a quick follow-up email. But last week, my manager suddenly told me that he knows I’m a finalist for this job. It turns out, one of the people who interviewed me knew my boss from a long time ago and talked about my candidacy to a few people in the field who know both me and my boss – and word eventually got around to my boss.

My boss seemed relatively supportive of me pursuing new goals in a new field. But he’s still going to put up a job posting for my current position and requested that I start creating transition documents. I was stunned. I told him that of course I want to do all that I can to make the transition easier and that I appreciate his support, but those steps feel a little premature, especially because I actually suspect that I didn’t get the job! He still acts like I’m going to move on soon. He’s even asked me close to every other day this past week if I heard back on the results of the interview so that he can post my job online.

Frankly, I’m pretty frustrated that the interviewer talked about my candidacy to people and that it got back to my boss. I now have to manage a boss who thinks I’m getting the offer and will leave soon when I actually have no offer in hand. I’m lost about what to do. Should I just continue as usual? Or should I talk to the other company’s HR or my interviewers to tell them what happened? Is there something I should say to my current employer to make sure I won’t be pushed out before I’m ready to move on? How can I job hunt in the future now when my employer now knows I’m itching to leave?

You can read my answer to this letter at New York Magazine today. Head over there to read it.

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