I recently read an account of an employee who, in response to an ad in the paper, sent a resume to an anonymous company via P.O. box. Unfortunately for him, that company happened to be the same one he was working for. His supervisor found out and he was fired.
To me, this sounds like a knee-jerk reaction. True, when you find out one of your employees is applying for other jobs, it can give you the sense that he or she isn't fully committed to your company. But some people like to keep feelers out there.
Many newspapers and online sources allow you to exclude certain companies from receiving your resume. That would have helped this poor guy avoid trouble.
Some people in the discussion of this account wondered whether the anonymous ad could be construed as entrapment by the hiring company. Others wondered whether it was legal to fire someone for that reason. (I will say that "at will" states can pretty much fire anyone any way they like.)
I wonder why the supervisor didn't take the opportunity to first talk with the employee to find out if there were particular reasons he was looking for another job. It would be a great way to find out if there were some internal issues that could be addressed.
My question is has something like this ever happened to you? If so, do you think that putting feelers out for other jobs is grounds for dismissal?
Toni Bowers is the former Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.