Dear Cubicle Coach: I've been getting calls lately from competitors about job openings. Should I take the meetings even if I'm not really interested? If the boss finds out, will she be angry, or will it send a signal that my talents are in demand?
Dear Wanted: Interviewing for jobs you're not gunning for can be great for practicing your technique and gleaning where you stand dollar-wise, so when the right thing does come along, you're honed and ready. As regards the boss finding out, you only want to be caught sleeping with the enemy if it will get you something on the back end--a raise, a promotion, a certain uneasiness in the higher-up's stomach as she contemplates losing a superstar like you. Ideally, you know her well enough to anticipate her reaction. Based on that, decide whether showing up in your sharpest Ann Taylor pantsuit on Hawaiian Shirt Day is worth the grief. Regardless, should she see you in that suit every other week, she may decide you (and your disloyalty) are no fun to have around. If you do get busted, justify the maneuver as counterintelligence work--explain that you were sneaking into enemy territory like Jennifer Garner in Alias, sans wigs, bustiers, and indecipherable plotlines.