So you followed all of our advice (or perhaps not enough of it) and you still got busted job hunting while you’re at work—or maybe your boss just sensed that you have one foot out the door. How do you recover now? Here are a few tactics depending on exactly what your situation may be and call for. You never know—your boss may actually sweeten the pot at your current job in an effort to keep you around.
1. Say you were sought out. “An opportunity with X Company fell into my lap, so I thought it would be wise to at least take the meeting, but I have no plans to leave.”
2. Explain your concerns about your job security. This is especially good if your company has had layoffs or budget issues recently. “After you explained in my review that there’s no money in the budget for a pay increase, I have to admit that I grew concerned with my security here. I love my job and working for you, but I wanted to be safe until I was sure there’s a steady future here.”
3. Note that you had an opportunity to advance elsewhere. If part of why you’re stepping out is because there’s no room for advancement at your company, say so. “X Company had openings for Y position, and I’d love to stay and do that very same job here if the opportunity is available.”
4. Have a strong alibi at the ready. This depends on what exactly you got busted doing and whether the excuse is feasible. For example, if your boss sees you on a job search site or updating your resume, you can fib if that’s all they have to go on: “A friend sent me a listing she was interested in but had trouble formatting a good template. I was trying to help her use mine while I had some downtime between projects. It won’t happen again.” Then overachieve for a while so you don’t look checked out.