Keep your job search secret with these tips
Looking for a new job requires stamina, smarts—and secrecy. These tips will help you keep your search out of your current employer's sight.
Bored at work? Ready to find a new job yesterday? The best time to explore better work opportunities is while you still have a job, but it’s not always an easy undertaking—especially if you work in an office environment where privacy is a luxury. What if your boss or co-workers find out that you’re on the hunt? You could end up in a very awkward situation.
But time is of the essence. So how can you keep your job search on the down-low when you’re involved in all sorts of email and phone correspondence, attempting to apply to jobs online, and working full time?
Monster turned to job search experts for stealthy strategies for seeking a new gig without letting it slip to your boss.
Avoid the office computer
It’s pretty simple. Don’t look for a job during business working hours on the company’s computer, says Revi Goldwasser, job-hunting expert and former financial services recruiter. “They might track these things, and you could risk losing your job,” she says.
If you must do at least some of your job search activity during the 9-to-5 workday, stick to your smartphone, and be as discreet as you can. Think lunchtime, bathroom breaks, and anywhere else you can get some alone time.
Another office trip-up is tying to sneak in a phone interview or recruiter call. “Many people think they can pop in to a conference room to take a call from a potential employer,” says Goldwasser. “What happens if your boss walks in on you, or maybe someone can overhear your conversation?”
Here’s a better idea: Schedule the call during your lunch break and head to your car or go for a walk. If it’s an unexpected call, ask if you can call them back and step outside your office space. The interviewer will understand your need for discretion, so don’t stress it.
Use discretion on social media
As your work and non-work worlds collide in the digital world, it’s especially important to be mindful of your activity if you’re job searching. For starters, don’t befriend current co-workers or her boss on Facebook, says Laura Handrick, an HR analyst for New York City–based FitSmallBusiness.com. If you already befriended them, block them for the time being. “I once had a co-worker who spied on everyone’s Facebook account and reported any activity, from job search comments to co-worker rants, to the boss,” she says. “Invasive, yes, but it happens.”
In general, try to avoid complaining about work or announcing your job search plans anywhere online.
As for networking online, tread carefully there as well. Reach out to your personal contacts—people you know and trust—to let them know you’re looking for a new job, and stress the importance of discretion. Let them know your target jobs and companies to see if they have any contacts they are willing to share with you.
Bonus tip: Consider turning off activity announcements when adding connections or editing your profile from your settings page. A sudden profile makeover if you don’t regularly update your page might make your manager suspicious.
Create a limited-view resume
Most employers get that you don’t want your job search broadcasted if you’re still employed, but it’s not always easy to contain. One layer of added protection is using Monster’s confidential feature that allows you to post a “visible and limited” resume without your contact information.
No matter where you upload your resume, you might also consider leaving off your current employer’s name, says Goldwasser. “Keep your current employer name as ‘confidential,’” she says. That way, if someone in your firm searches the company name, your resume won’t come up. “And for goodness’ sake—make sure the email address you include is not your work address,” she adds.
Zip your lip
If you feel compelled to confide in a co-worker about your job quest, think twice. “Not everyone is your friend,” says Handrick. “Some value their careers and their upward mobility more than your friendship, or they may be closer friends with your boss or others in the organization. Don’t risk it.”
Also, avoid suspicious behavior such as showing up late to work dressed in a slick business suit, when it’s more of a business casual vibe. You might not think anyone will notice, but they will.
Finally, if you’re in a niche industry or a small town where everyone knows each other, you may need to take extra precautions since gossip travels fast. “Make one-on-one contact, and ask people at other companies to keep your inquiry confidential, or work via a recruiter so that your manager isn’t tipped off that you’re looking for work elsewhere,” says Handrick.
All in all, if you’re looking for new opportunities but are still employed, the key things to remember are to be mindful of your digital footprint, act normal during work hours, and be careful whom you trust.
Need help in you secret job search? Do this next
Finding a new job can itself be a full-time job—on top of the one you already have (and can’t wait to leave). It doesn’t make it any easier when wandering eyes and ears surround you. Could you use a little help finding new job opportunities without blowing your cover? Join Monster today. As a member, you can get job alerts emailed directly to you, which saves you the time you’d spend searching through job ads, not to mention it saves you the risk of exposure. Your search is between Monster, you, and your inbox.