Conducting a Confidential Job Search
The best time to look for a new job is when you already have one. Many companies prefer to hire candidates who are already employed.
And when you’re looking for work, being employed gives you more time to be selective about what your new job could be.
But there’s a problem with this scenario: Keeping your job search secret from your current employer can be tricky. That’s especially the case in today’s digital age when managers can pick up hints of job-searching employees on job boards and sites like LinkedIn.
Nevertheless, it’s possible to keep a job search confidential while employed. Not only that but conducting a confidential job search is essential.
Companies frown upon employees who conduct job searches while at their firms, even though most know it happens. It can be seen as a sign of disloyalty, that you’re not entirely focused on work and, in some extreme cases, you could be fired because of it.
Empire Resume will delve into the sensitive topic of conducting a confidential job search and let you know the best ways to pull it off.
Why Stealth Job Searches are Essential
Until you have a written job offer, nothing is guaranteed. So, when looking for a job while employed, you want to ensure you keep your current job. And that’s why it’s essential to keep your job search confidential.
Searching for a new job takes time, and employed candidates look better in the eyes of hiring managers. In addition, if you’re looking while you’re employed, you have more time, options, and you may even get a higher salary offer.
But be very discreet while searching. There are a million little things that can tip off your current employer that you’re job hunting – from leaving a resume at the printer to even changing a few things about your LinkedIn profile.
If your employer finds out about your job search, it could damage your search and standing with the company. Some companies may even fire employees who they know are looking for greener pastures. At the very least, it will strain the relationship with your boss and maybe some co-workers.
Don’t Search During Work Hours
An easy way to get caught by your current employer is to do job searching during regular work hours or, even worse, on a company computer.
Getting around this obstacle isn’t too hard, though. Keep your job hunting primarily during evenings and weekends. You can also sneak in time during lunch breaks or other breaks during the day.
With so many jobs being remote now, you may be tempted to search during work hours. This is still risky, though. If you’re on a company laptop, who’s to say you’re not being tracked? And what if you share your screen during a meeting and a browser pops up with job listings?
The bottom line is to use common sense on when you look for new jobs. If you do have to go into the office, definitely don’t browse for jobs there.
Keep a Low Profile Online
Be very careful about what you post online and on social media, especially LinkedIn. Don’t post anything about your job search or the fact that you’re looking for new opportunities. Even if your boss or HR manager doesn’t see it, a co-worker may see it and report it to them.
Many HR managers regularly scan employees’ social media profiles and pick up on little hints that they’re job searching. It may seem invasive, but it makes sense HR managers do it – part of their job is employee retention, after all.
Be particularly wary about your activity on LinkedIn. Change your LinkedIn privacy and profile settings to hide activity in groups for job seekers, new connections, recommendations, and when you follow new companies.
Raise Your Visibility Carefully
You don’t want to advertise to everyone that you’re on a job hunt. But there are ways to raise your visibility carefully so your current employer either doesn’t find out or it’s done professionally.
For example, tell trusted friends and family you’re looking for a new job. You can even tell former co-workers who work elsewhere or other professional contacts in your network. Just let them know to keep it discreet.
However, never tell current co-workers. Office gossip travels quickly, and word can get back to your boss. Even if you think a co-worker is a friend, you can’t totally trust them to keep the information a secret.
Use Personal Contact Info on Resume
Always use your personal phone number and email address on your resume when looking for a new job. Just like not using a company laptop, you definitely don’t want to talk to potential employers using your current employer’s phone or email.
This should be obvious, but mistakes can easily happen. For instance, say you find the perfect job on a job board and apply. You may apply accidentally via your current company’s email address.
This is a bad mistake on two levels. First off, your current company can see the emails you send and receive – and they won’t be too happy. And secondly, the hiring manager at the other company won’t think it’s very professional, either.
Don’t Schedule Interviews During Work Hours
This can be difficult, but not impossible. Let the potential employer know you must keep your search discreet and ask for flexibility in scheduling interviews.
Job interviews can be done during a day off, lunch breaks, and possibly after work hours. If you have personal days, try to line up several interviews on the same day, so you’re not taking too many days off.
Also, if you’re still going into the office, be wary of dressing up when you usually dress business casual. Nothing tips off a manager more than a worker wearing fancier attire when they say they have a dentist appointment!
Ask Potential Employers for Discretion
Lastly, ask the companies you’re talking to for discretion. This should be a given, but not all companies are smart about this.
For example, tell the potential employer to only call the references you list and not contact your current employer. If they call your employer, this is a sure-fire way to have your job search revealed.
Keep Working Hard During Your Search
Even if you take the necessary precautions, there’s no guarantee your job search will remain confidential. Nevertheless, it’s vital to be as discreet as possible when looking for a new job while employed.
Follow the steps we discussed and, most importantly, continue to work hard at your current job. Job searching takes a lot of time, and never let your search interfere with the work you’re currently doing.
Stay tuned to the Empire Resume blog for more helpful tips and tricks on resumes and job hunting, including articles such as Understanding Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), 8 Key Steps for Getting a Job, and How to Nail Your Interview.
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Maria Gold is a Content Manager/Writer for Empire Resume. She is dedicated to helping educate and motivate people with the latest career articles and job search advice. Her interests range from writing to programming and design. She is also passionate about innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology.