How to Keep Your Job Search a Secret

By Mikey Rox on 1 June 2017 0 comments

Looking for a job can be tricky when you already have one. You want to take your career to the next level, but you don't want to risk the job you currently have — which can happen if your employer finds out you're trying to jump ship.

Use these tips to keep your search a secret until you're ready to put in your two weeks' notice:

Keep your job search to yourself

There's no need to tell anyone else about your job search, least of all your coworkers. It doesn't matter how close you are, it's still none of their business. Loyalty is a fickle beast when positions are up for grabs, and if your coworkers see a chance to get a leg up, you may find yourself thrown under a proverbial bus. Rumors can spread like wildfire, and they'll eventually hit the boss. You could compromise your current employment if you don't have control of the narrative. Best to say nothing at all.

Stay away from company equipment

Using company equipment to conduct a job search seems like an obvious no-no, but you'd be surprised how many people don't recognize the risk until they get caught. Your activities may be monitored, and it'll be hard to explain yourself when IT has proof that you're wasting company time and resources to further your career elsewhere.

Always use your personal computer and mobile devices to look for jobs and respond to emails, and only provide your personal phone numbers for calls. Don't use the office copier or fax for resume or other job-search materials, either; you could accidentally leave your resume on the machines, thereby ratting on yourself.

Continue giving 100 percent at your current job

Remember when you were a senior in high school? It was so hard to put forth the effort during that last week of class. It's common to adopt a similar attitude when you're planning to leave a job. You might tell yourself that you'll be gone soon anyway, so why bother trying to impress anyone? But this is a dangerous mentality. It's important to remain professional until the day your tenure ends at your current position.

"Don't ease off the gas just because you are thinking about leaving," says Ryan Naylor, CEO and founder of LocalWork.com. "Maybe that new job won't come, or maybe you want a good referral later. If you do leave, you want to leave behind a continued path of goodwill, not burned bridges."

Don't announce your intentions on social media

Even though you think your social media accounts are "private," remain cautious. People are nosy, and it's common practice these days for employers to check in on their employees' social media presence. If you don't say anything, you don't have to explain anything. This is especially true on LinkedIn; use the service to search for open positions and network with contacts, but don't outwardly declare that you're looking for a new job. It's almost guaranteed to get back to your employer.

Nancy Schuman, chief marketing officer at recruitment firm Lloyd Staffing, adds, "Make your activity stream on LinkedIn private and turn off broadcasts. Don't list your current employer by name on your resume. Instead, describe it as a 'large financial institution,' 'a well- known consumer products company,' etc."

Same goes for Facebook, Twitter, and any other platforms you use. You may not be directly connected to your boss, but chances are you're connected to someone you work with, or someone who knows someone you work with. These services may help you make connections faster, but it's best to target individuals in your network directly who may be able to help you. It'll certainly be less dangerous than making a blanket post on Facebook about how you'd like a better job.

Don't send resumes to blind ads

When applying for positions, make sure you know to whom you're sending your resume and information. On platforms like Craigslist, often the job description is listed but the employer remains anonymous. This could spell trouble if you inadvertently respond to an ad your current employer is running.

Certified career coach Cheryl Palmer relays a story of a job seeker who made that mistake.

"A woman once told me that her coworker responded to a blind ad and then was confronted a short while later by someone in the company from Human Resources," she says. "The HR professional asked her if she was looking for another job. The woman lied and said no. The HR professional responded, 'I got your resume.' It turned out that the job that this woman had unwittingly applied for was at her own company."

If you're posting to job boards, do that anonymously as well. You never know who's on there. If HR is searching for candidates for your office and they find you, you'll have some explaining to do.

Keep your interview attire in your car

Try not to take time off work to go on job interviews, if only to avoid raising a red flag on why your attendance is suddenly sporadic. If need be, schedule interviews during your lunch break or possibly after work. If there's no wiggle room, as a last resort, take one day off from your current job and try to schedule multiple interviews on that day.

To expedite the interview process during work hours — like lunchtime, for instance — keep interview attire in your vehicle so you can change in and out of it at a discreet location. A suit and tie will be a dead giveaway if you normally wear jeans and a polo. You can only use the "I have a funeral to attend after work" excuse so many times before your coworkers start to think you're an agent of death.

Use references outside your current company

If you're trying to keep your job search a secret, why would you list your current employer as a reference? Surely you can find other people to vouch for you who don't have the power to fire you for making poor decisions.

To avoid this predicament, Schuman suggests letting a prospective employer know that you will offer a current reference once you have a job offer. "But do have other references lined up who know you and your work well for them to contact in the interim," she adds.

Ask for confidentiality at your interview

You may even go so far as to ask the person with whom you're interviewing not to reach out to your current employer. Just mention that you'd rather keep your current employer out of it; most hiring managers will understand.

Schuman suggests, "If you are working with a recruiter, tell them your confidentiality must be maintained; ask to be made aware of all prospective opportunities before your resume is referred."

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