I have a question regarding etiquette for applying for jobs.

Background: I graduated recently with a PhD in mathematics and took a job at a small college. I have worked there pleasantly for the past year, but I do not enjoy the area that I have moved to for the job. For this reason, I would like to apply to a select number of open jobs in areas closer to my family and some research collaborators.

Questions: Should I tell my current employer that I am applying to other jobs? Should I have at least one letter of recommendation come from someone in the faculty at my current job?

Reason for conflict: I have heard some people argue that I should tell my employer and a letter of recommendation from someone in my current department is appropriate because they are aware of my work/teaching record. I have heard other people argue that I should not tell my employer until I have accepted a position at another school. After all, a good job is nothing to take lightly in this economy and if they know I am actively looking elsewhere they will likely not renew my contract at the end of the year. Then if my selective job search is fruitless, I will be without a job.

I am looking for some advice in this arena. What is the etiquette for applying for another job?


closed as off topic by user9072, Felipe Voloch, Igor Rivin, Andrés E. Caicedo, André Henriques Sep 20 '11 at 20:30

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    $\begingroup$ Community wiki? $\endgroup$ – Igor Rivin Sep 20 '11 at 12:54
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    $\begingroup$ Without wanting to sound too cynical, but what do you expect except more people disagreeing on these points or stressing similar points? $\endgroup$ – user9072 Sep 20 '11 at 13:44
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    $\begingroup$ There is no generally correct answer to this question. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Woo Sep 20 '11 at 14:49
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    $\begingroup$ honesty is unassailable, so why not use it? $\endgroup$ – Suvrit Sep 20 '11 at 15:23
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    $\begingroup$ I feel bad being the last one to cast a vote to close, as I can feel your pain and your hesitations... But the truth is that there is nothing that people in this forum can really do to help you. You just need to make a difficult decision; I'm guessing that you already have all the information that you need in order to make it. Now it's up to you. $\endgroup$ – André Henriques Sep 20 '11 at 20:30

Get a letter from your current location unless you have a reason to believe it will hurt your current conditions. It does look bad for someone to have no reference about their current job. If you aren't sure, ask a local experienced confidant. Maybe you can get someone in your department to write a letter without telling your boss, if that is the problem. You aren't obliged to tell your boss until you are sure you are moving.

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    $\begingroup$ What if the boss finds out the thing? For example because the possible employers make a phone call to him asking about the candidate? I'd think it's quite risky to make actions that you wouldn't want other people to know of, expecially in a small department... $\endgroup$ – Qfwfq Sep 20 '11 at 13:39
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    $\begingroup$ It's always possible. That's why I suggested asking a local confidant for advice. But most bosses understand perfectly well that we all look after our careers as best we can. He/she might even be more kind afterwards. It has to be played by ear, there is no course of action that is best in all cases. I answered as I did because I have seen people losing the opportunity for very good career moves because of fear of being seen as disloyal. We are obliged to do a good job, but we are not owned by our institutions. $\endgroup$ – Brendan McKay Sep 20 '11 at 16:22

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