Should I Tell Them and When?

by | Mar 9, 2020 | Interviewing

One of the hardest things for a person to do is to keep a secret. We seem to have a natural inclination to want to tell people…family, co-workers, even strangers when and if we get lonely enough.

What should you do, however, if this information is related to or could impact your job? Should you (depending on what it is) “come clean” when it is related to your past, or inform them if the information is more present or future related. And, if so, when is the best time to provide the prospective employer with this “inside information”? This week we will address all of these issues as we ask the question…”Should I Tell Them?”

Before we get too far along, I do believe that overall that “honesty is the best policy”, but I understand that sometimes other factors can come into play. You will also note that in almost all of these scenarios, you will have to eventually tell your Manager, and most of the time, no later than shortly into your new position. So, the only potential positive of temporarily withholding the information is if you believe it will be held against you (and then do you really want to work there?).

• You May Need To Be Short-Term – This situation has recently been covered, in detail, in a full article (you can go online at for a full archive of this column). To summarize, you may know that it is possible that your tenure in this potential new job may be short-term. This could happen for several reasons, such as your spouse’s career or future school plans. If you know this will definitely occur, you probably owe it to the company to discuss it. If it is just a potential situation then you may want to hold off on any discussions until you have more concrete information.

• You Are No Longer Employed – In this scenario, you have lost your positon in the time period since you have submitted your resume. This used to be a bigger deal than it is today for a couple of reasons. First, when resumes were mailed, there was a much longer delay than there is now. Also not that long ago, it was a serious stigma to be looking for a new job without being currently employed. Today…Hiring Managers are much more receptive to consider unemployed candidates. If questioned, I would just state that the past position has now ended and you are full-time in your job search, ready to start immediately.

• You Have a Vacation Scheduled – You can’t always plan out everything perfectly, and sometimes your job search comes into conflict with a vacation you have planned. This is especially true if you are a “passive’ job seeker and had the prospective employer reach out to you about the position. Unfortunately, I find that many job seekers do not bring up this schedule issue until late in the recruitment process. In most situations, the Hiring Manager will be happy to work with you regarding the time off needed (although it may not be paid time depending on company policy). As a HR Professional, I would rather know about it as early as possible. For a manager, accommodating this vacation will be a worthwhile trade-off for obtaining a qualified and productive employee.

• You May Need a Reasonable Accommodation – So, you have a disability. It does not keep you from working, but depending on the essential functions of the job, you may need assistance. A trained Recruiter or Hiring Manager should ask you whether you can do the job with/without a reasonable accommodation after going over the “essential duties”. If this is not brought up by the Interviewer, then you should bring up the subject. This is too important of a discussion to wait until later in the process. Please be aware that you may catch the Interviewer off-guard when you say “Yes” and engage him/her in this discussion (they are so used to 99% of the time a person saying “No”).

• You Have Another Viable Company/Offer – A job seeker can be torn regarding what to tell a company when he/has received an offer from a different employer. You want to make them aware of the situation and hopefully get them to move quicker, but you do not want to seem like you are pressuring them. Whatever you do, out of respect for the other company, refrain from sharing too many details regarding this other offer.

The job search process can be stressful and no one wishes to make a misstep that could end his or her pursuit of a position. It is especially nerve-wracking when you have information to share that will most likely not be viewed positively. A Job Seeker must assess the situation in order to determine when the best time to inform the prospective employer is.

As always, best of luck in your job search.

The following has been prepared for the general information of WNYJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.

Joe Stein
WNY Human Resources Professional

Feel free to contact Joe Stein regarding questions or comments at:
Joe Stein

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