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Earlier this week, I blogged a bit about employees who change their status within social media sites to indicate they are "looking for a new job".   In that post, I spun it from the angle of how aware you are as a HR pro about what's going on in your organization.  The bottom line?  You need to be aware, which means you need to be a social media consumer (if not a content producer...)

With that said, the question still remains - what do you do as a HR pro when someone updates a socialFree agent nation media status to indicate they want a new job?  Here's my listing of your choices:

  • Confront the employee: This is the obvious instinct whenever you see a current employee with a résumé on a job board. This approach works best with the employee who's reacting about a single issue. The "Reactionary" can be approached directly, but then you’ll need to follow up to resolve the issue in question. Forget confronting the Free Agent (one who's always looking, it's just in their DNA) or the Chronically Disgruntled (never happy), because directness won’t change the approach of either.

  • Tell the manager: If you confront an employee, you have to get their manager in the loop. That’s the right thing to do, and it’s a follow-up to confronting the employee. Letting the manager know that the Free Agent is updating his profile every week is not recommended. It’s not personal for the Free Agent, but it will cause trust issues with the manager when none may be warranted. You can also let the manager know that the disgruntled employee is floating his résumé, but there likely won’t be any viable action as a result—unless you can correct the core satisfaction issue.

  • Attempt to engage on your own, undercover: Only an option for true HR pros. Rather than talking to either the employee or manager, you find a way to dig into what’s going on in the environment and attempt to engage or fix it. This is a viable option for the Reactionary or Disgruntled employee, although the approach doesn’t work as well for chronic situations as it does for those acute ones. Additionally, this approach doesn’t make sense for the Free Agent, since there’s no identifiable workplace issue to focus on.

  • Do nothing and watch the show: Don’t use this approach with the Reactionary. You’ve got to do something to try and fix that one. This approach is best for the Free Agent or the Disgruntled. You can’t stop the Free Agent from being market-oriented, and the Disgruntled may have more issues than you can solve.

Before you act, know the profile and the motivation of the employee in question. At the end of the day, your organization expects you to own the situation. All parties involved are best served by the HR pro examining the situation and making the best call regarding the appropriate response..

Or you could simply post your résumé in response. Does that make you a Free Agent—or a Reactionary?


Sharlyn Lauby

I've always taken the approach that at any given time and or all of my employees could be looking for their next job. That is a constant reminder that I need to deliver the right outcomes. No different than with customers...if you become complacent and figure your customers will always be there...you might find out one day that they're not. Nice post (as always).


I agree with you Sharlyn. I could also tie it right back to good leadership/management and ask whether they are taking the time to recognize and reward their stronger players. If they are and have decent communication with their team, resolution may also salvage some others. Great subject and timely. C


Here is an example of how option 1 can work. Back in 1999 I had become frustrated in my job and felt I was underpaid. I had naively posted my resume on monster.com and didn't think to make it private. Our recruiting staff found my resume, told the Director of HR who spoke to me about it in the parking lot one day. She asked if there was anything she could do to make me want to stay. I had said that I felt I should be earning more money and that was the main reason for looking. She managed to get me a $7,000 raise. It kept me there another three years. I still appreciate the proactive approach the HR Director took.


You people are saints. I was finding it hard to believe that in this job environment that anyone in management really cared about keeping workers happy. I would expect HR people to be looking for any excuse at all to hustle employees out the door since there's a huge pool of desperate labor out there.
Thanks for restoring my faith.


I think that is a good approach. Any HR perosn who thinks their employees are not looking must have their head in the sand. I have been running a network support group for unemployed professionals for six years and what they tell me and I tell others is American business destroyed employee loyalty awhile back and you need to be activley networking all the time, working or not. And given all the other choices companies besides laying people off, they continue to reinforce that notion. How can I in good conscious advise otherwise. Social media is just one way.

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