Employees leave companies for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they butt-heads with their immediate supervisor, or maybe the company is in a constant state of reorganization.
Whatever your reasons are for leaving, job searching while employed requires secret agent-like discretion and stealth.
How can employed white-collar workers channel James Bond or Jason Bourne in the job search? Consider the following covert moves:
1. Keep Your Job Search And Work Separate
It’s sometimes OK to search for new jobs at work if your employer is actively downsizing, and you’ve been told your job isn’t secure and you’re welcome to use the company time for your search. For all other times, keep your job search and work separate. Never search for jobs using your company’s computer, and never use your work email to touch base with potential employers. Just as they do for social media usage, many employers monitor computers and email.
Likewise, don’t use company resources to print resumes or work samples, and don’t use the shared company mailroom to send direct mail to potential employers.
Still feel like searching for a job while on the clock? Here’s what to say if you’ve been caught red-handed.
2. Be Very Careful Who You Tell
Just because you trust your cubicle partner not to steal your stapler, doesn’t mean you should trust her to keep mum about your future career prospects. The water cooler may be retired in many offices, but the chatter that occurred there lives on.
Keep your job leads and interviews as private as possible while still harnessing the power of your network. Entrust your search only to those you know won’t spill the beans, and ask them to keep your search quiet.
3. Schedule Interviews Strategically
Since you can’t suddenly have doctors’ appointments every morning one week without raising suspicion, get creative with scheduling interviews. Try to schedule your interviews before or after work or during lunchtime. If your interviewer isn’t flexible with scheduling, use vacation or personal days for interviews.
4. Be Wary Of Your Wardrobe
Do you work in a casual office? Be very wary of how you dress on days you have an interview. Interview dress is crucial to landing a job, but you can’t wear polo shirts and khakis every day of the week, then suddenly don a tailored suit and tie on a Friday. To avoid suspicion, quick changes in public bathrooms (or your home, if it’s close enough) may be in order.
5. Your Boss May See Notice As A Threat
It may seem ideal to give your boss a “heads up” that you’re pursuing new ventures, especially if he or she knows there isn’t opportunity for you to grow within the company. But be very careful: Some employers may see your friendly “heads up” as a threat for salary or benefits negotiating power. Your employer may begin to see you as a temporary employee and remove you from important projects or, worse, immediately begin the search for your replacement.
6. Use Former Employers As References
As much as you may like your current boss, it should be obvious to use former employers to be as references in your job search. Prospective employers will understand that you want to keep your job search confidential. (The exception is if your company is actively downsizing, as noted above.)
7. Be Honest With Potential Employers
If a potential employer asks if your current employer knows about your job search, be honest and tell him, “No.” Potential employers can easily discover if you’re lying through a reference check, which will certainly remove you from the pool of potential candidates.
8. Don’t Forget About Your Current Job
Just because you believe the relationship you have with your current company is over doesn’t mean your boss does. Within your work hours, stay focused on your current responsibilities. You owe it to your employer to remain a productive employee for the time you have left. (This includes time after you’ve submitted your letter of resignation.)
9. You Don’t Have The Job Yet
It’s natural to feel optimistic about a new position after a stellar interview (or two or three), but remember, that position isn’t yours until it’s offered to you. Don’t submit your letter of resignation to your boss until you have an offer in writing.
Job searching while employed is rough. After all, who wants to do more work after work? But the process has its benefits, too. Employed job searchers are in a better position to negotiate salary and won’t be tempted to accept the first offer that comes along.
Are you employed and searching for new ventures? How are you handling the process of job searching while employed?
Sudy Bharadwaj is a co-founder and the CEO of Jackalope Jobs, a job seeker focused platform, making the job search social, fast and easy. Learn how Sudy and Jackalope Jobs obsess over job seekers by connecting with them on Twitter.