6 Ways to Keep Your New Job Hunt Secret

So you're looking for a new job — the problem is, you already have one, and you don't want your current boss to discover you're looking for another. It's a situation most of us find ourselves in at least once during our careers, but it's also one that can be potentially disastrous.

Since job security is important to most of us, it's important to keep your job search confidential until you actually have an offer on the table. Here are some tips for doing just that.

1. Hunt on Personal Time

Yes, it's often easier to look for a new job during regular business hours, but this also makes it a lot harder to keep your search a secret. Do your best to research new companies or positions and submit your resume on your own time.

As you get farther along in your job search, it may become harder to avoid searching during business hours. Most new employers will not be willing to interview, in person or by phone, outside of their own working hours. But if you must search during these times, do the right thing and take some vacation time or call in sick.

It can be helpful to let potential new employers know that while you are actively looking to leave your current position, they shouldn't contact your current company. Most employers are understanding of this, and allow you to check a box preventing current employer contact from occurring.

2. Guard Your Email

Conduct your job hunt from a personal email address, preferably one specifically dedicated to your job hunt. Many companies now monitor emails, so sending job-search related content through your current employer's server carries risks.

It's easy to create a new email address, and most email platforms will allow you to read mail from multiple addresses with one (personal) login. Just make sure that any email you send in response has a return address that matches the one your potential new employer sent their email to.

3. Take Care With Your Resume

It's easy to post your resume to job boards, and doing so can feel like a huge step toward putting yourself out there. However, public boards are searchable by all companies, including the one you currently work for. While you may think that there is a fairly small chance that someone from your current company would see your post, many companies monitor these boards. They're looking for potential employees, but also looking for current employees who want to leave.

If you must post to a job board, determine whether they have privacy options that would allow you to control who sees your information. You can also choose to mask your applicant name with something like "Confidential Candidate," and describe your current position generally rather than specifically.

These same cautions apply to your cover letter, too. You can mention that this is a confidential job search and request discretion during the hiring process.

4. Dress the Part

Interviews require you to dress up, but many jobs let you slack at least a little in the clothing department once you're employed there. This means that if you have an interview, but are going into work first, you should dress for your current role. Store your suit in the car, or go home before your interview so you can change.

This is especially true when you're going on a lot of interviews. You may be able to make an excuse for dressing up once (like, you're going out to a formal dinner directly after work), but doing that more than once can raise suspicions.

5. Keep Social Media Contacts in the Dark

You can be as careful as you want about your job search, but if other people know about it, your cat can still get out of its bag. Unless someone is very close to you or has a good reason to know you're looking to change jobs, it's best to keep them in the dark. This is especially true for acquaintances who might not understand how important it is for you to keep things confidential.

If someone finds out about your search, let them know that you are keeping it on the down low until you have an offer. Ask them to email you directly if they want to talk about it, or just tell them that you'd rather not discuss it, but you will let them know when or if something comes up.

6. Don't Talk About It

After everything mentioned here, this seems pretty obvious. But you would be surprised how many people shoot themselves in the foot because they get so excited, discouraged, frustrated, or exhilarated by their job search that they just can't help talking about it. Don't. Resist the temptation to brag, share, or vent about how things are going.

If you know that you're the type who will inevitably need to talk about your search, choose someone who already knows about it. Call your best friend, your spouse, or even your mother to share your triumphs and successes.

Looking for a new job can be such a fun and exciting time. Remember these tips so that you don't hurt yourself more than you help yourself, and so that you don't burn your bridges behind you.

Have you searched for a job while you had a job? How did you keep things confidential?

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Guest's picture

Great article! It is important to not only "keep your cards close to your vest," but to respect your current employer as you seek to leave. It will be remembered, and will come back to bite you when you seek future positions if not done properly. I agree with all of the points you made, with the exception of one. If you are not going to come in to work on the day of your interview, you should NOT claim to be out sick if you are not sick. Use your vacation time if you are in fact going to "do the right thing."