Are you ready for a new job? Most career experts would tell you to start looking while you’re still employed. Having a job while looking for a job makes you that much more attractive to a potential employer. Most potential employers prefer job candidates who currently have a job because it gives them more confidence that you’ll be a good hire. Companies want to hire the best of the best and top performers are usually employed. Having a job while searching for new employment gives you leverage when it comes to negotiating compensation terms for the new position. Plus, quitting your job before having a job is a big risk that you should avoid. Most people do not have eternal streams of income, so you should stay in your position until you get that firm offer for new employment.
But what can happen if you’re indiscreet about your job search? The first rule of the job search is don’t talk about the job search. The rumor mill can start generating reports about your desire to leave, and your current company may start making plans for your departure without letting you know.
If you’re going to conduct your job search on the stealth, here are some tips for avoiding the traps:
1- Don’t tell anyone where you currently work. Remember the old WWII saying: “Loose lips sink ships.” If you tell one person at work that you’re looking for a new job, you might as well tell everyone. If your boss finds out, he or she may take it personally and see it as a lack of loyalty to them and the company. They may assume that you’re unhappy and worst case scenario, may start taking steps to terminate you. Supervisors want employees who are committed to the job, not the job search. The exception to this would be if your boss has told you about upcoming layoffs and has offered to help you in your job search. Also, don’t use any of your current co-workers or supervisors as references. If one of them is contacted while you’re looking for a new job and they’re not aware you’re looking for a new job, you’ll have a lot of explaining to do. Don’t put yourself in this potentially embarrassing and precarious position.
2- Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and complete. Having a complete profile these days won’t raise any suspicions. One of the first places a hiring manager will look when they have a job candidate is at the job candidate’s LinkedIn profile. It’s best to keep it updated all the time so that you don’t have to rush to complete it when you start looking for a new job. Don’t indicate that you’re looking for new job opportunities on your LinkedIn profile or on any social media site, in case your current employer monitors your page or your co-workers are made aware of your intents by way of your updates. Also, keep your resume off of major jobs boards. They are easily searchable by company recruiters and an ineffective way to conduct a job search.
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3- Schedule interviews during non-work hours only. Try to schedule job interviews before work, during lunch, after work, or on personal days, if possible. If you inform the interviewer that you’d prefer to keep your job search confidential, they may try to accommodate you by scheduling your interview during non-work hours, which will raise the least suspicion with your current employer. You may even consider using unused vacation days to interview since you may be losing these days anyway if you get a new job.
4- Only use your personal phone and computer in your job search, not company equipment or property. Most companies track your internet usage so anything related to your job search may raise suspicions. Your company may also track your phone use so it’s best if you use your personal cell or smart phone to further your job search, but make sure no one at work overhears your conversations. Also, don’t use a work email address or phone number for your job search or on your resume (yes, I have personally seen this). Upload a copy of your resume to your smart phone so you can email it from work without using your work PC. Plus, you want to handle job opportunities and requests as soon as you receive them.
5- Stay focused and continue to perform on your current job. Continue to perform at or above expectations. It is important to show respect and professionalism to your current employer. You should never check out prematurely or “go on cruise control.” As difficult as this may be, this is the time to keep producing high quality work, to preserve your reputation and be able to leave with dignity and your head held high.