Thursday, August 15, 2013

Real Talk With Rachel: Clerking Out

by Rachel Kurzius

Dear Rachel,

I graduated from college this spring and moved back to DC. I’ve been working at a small business owned by a woman who has been a great boss to me. It is a small store and I am the only clerk there other than the owner. For the whole summer she has been training me in the details of the store in addition to ringing people up and cleaning. It is a good way to make money while I try to figure out what to do next but it’s not how I imagine my future.

I am starting to apply to other jobs but now I feel very guilty. When I’m working, the owner gets to do things like spend time with her kids which I know she enjoys. I feel bad that she will lose this when I leave. Should I warn her that I am looking at other jobs so that she’ll be prepared for me to leave?

Job Search or Soul Search

Dear Job Search or Soul Search,

I respect your compassion and sense of duty to your employer. These traits make you a valuable employee and I hope that your boss cherishes your work.

Despite this, you are utterly and totally replaceable.

Think for a moment about what happened last winter, when you were off finishing your degree. Did the owner still manage to see her children? Did the store still function? Of course. And it will keep on keeping on once you’ve left for a new opportunity.

This is why I don’t think you should warn your boss about your job search. Surely she knows that you don’t plan on being a clerk in her store forever. Implicit in the employer/employee at-will relationship is that either one of you may be looking around for something better. But if you tell her that you’re starting to search, she might do the same. And unfortunately, there could be a pretty big time lapse from beginning the search and landing your next job. You don’t want to lose this source of income before that.

Some people will tell you you’re silly for feeling guilty about looking in the first place. I’ve felt that guilt before, too, though. My friends call it my penchant for “Stockholm Syndrome,” like kidnap victims who end up empathizing with their captors. But it probably means that you have a good relationship with your boss. In the future, you’ll be able to rely on the boss for references and perhaps, if you’re looking for extra money during holidays or weekends, you can ask if she needs anyone to work in the store during that time.

Just make sure you’re courteous in giving your two weeks notice when you do land a new gig.

Good luck!

All my best,



Rachel Kurzius revels in giving advice, and has provided counsel both as a columnist and a friend. She lives in Washington DC, where she works as a news producer. Real Talk with Rachel is published on All Life is Local and the Cleveland Park Listserv,, on Wednesday or Thursday. Need advice? You can write to Rachel via or advice @

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