Tips for Conducting a Confidential Job Search
How to Keep Your Job Search Secret
When you don't want your current employer to find out that you are job hunting, there are steps you can take to keep your job search confidential. The last thing you need to have happen when job searching is for your employer to accidentally find out that you're looking for a new job. It could jeopardize both your current position and future references from your employer.
Worrying About Your Employer Finding Out
If you're concerned about your current employer discovering you're job hunting, you are not alone.
An Indeed.com survey reports that 52 percent of job seekers said their biggest concern was work colleagues finding out about their job search. That was significantly more of a worry than concerns about not finding a job (29%). Two-thirds of job seekers are concerned (very to somewhat) about their job search process being made public.
The survey also reports that 24 percent of respondents worldwide ranked their job search as the topic they are least likely to share online. That's a smart move, because it's not hard for your co-workers or employers to find out about your job search if you're posting it on social media.
If you take a few precautions, it will be easier to keep your job search private. Here are some suggestions on how to effectively job hunt on the sly, so that the wrong person doesn't find out that you are looking to make a move.
Stealth Job Hunting Do's and Don'ts
Do not use your work email address for job hunting.
Use your personal account or set up a free web-based email account specifically for job searching. Remember to check this account frequently, because some employers have a tight schedule for interviewing and hiring.
Don't use your employer's computers or phone system. Many employers monitor Internet usage and review phone call logs.
Keep your resume, your email correspondence, and anything and everything related to your job search on your home computer or online. If you have a smart phone or tablet, you can use it to for most of your job search activities.
Be careful where you post your resume. If you don't want your current employer to accidentally find your resume when searching for candidates, post on job sites where you can keep your employer and contact information confidential. For example, if you post your resume on Monster, you can make it confidential and your contact information and references won't be displayed. You can block your present company's name by entering an end date of present for your current position.
Additional Resume Options
Other options for protecting your privacy (aside from blocking) include listing a generic company name and job title, rather than a specific one. You can also leave off company contact information. Do the same with your contact information and phone numbers. List your job searching email address and cell phone number.
One way to help ensure your resume doesn't get into the wrong hands is to apply direct on company websites. This way, your application will go directly to the employer, and won't be floating around the Internet.
Do not use your work phone number for job hunting. Instead, put your cell phone number and/or home phone number on your resume. Be sure to have voice mail set up, so you get the messages in a timely fashion.
How and When
If you can't job hunt from work, what other options are there besides evenings and weekends? Visit a bookstore, cafe or library with Internet access on your lunch hour and bring your laptop or table if you can find a wireless connection to use. Use your tablet or phone to job search - there are lots of job search apps available. Lunch time also a good time to return prospective employer phone calls, especially if you can take an early or late lunch to catch them in the office.
Try to schedule interviews for either the beginning or the end of the day or on your lunch hour.
If you have vacation time you can use, schedule multiple interviews for the same day.
Dress the Part
If you typically wear jeans to work, don't wear a suit when you have an interview scheduled. Someone will start wondering what the occasion is for dressing up.
Be careful who you tell that you're looking for a new job. If you tell co-workers, you can be sure that it will get back to your boss, one way or the other. Do tell your family, so they can take messages for you and so they don't inadvertently spill the beans to your work colleagues and leave you a message that someone is calling about an interview.
Social Networking Sites
Be really careful what you post on social networking sites. Don't tell your Facebook friends or your LinkedIn connections that you're job searching. Don't tweet about your job search activities either. Even if your boss doesn't follow your updates, someone else may, and the word that you're job hunting could get back.
What To Do if the Boss Catches You Job Searching
Despite your best efforts, your boss just discovered that you're interviewing for a new job. Now what? It depends. First of all, it's time for damage control and you'll need to act quickly.
What to do next depends on what you were doing when you caught, and how much your manager has discovered. Perhaps you weren't actively seeking employment, but were solicited to interview. If so, tell your boss that you love your job, you want to stay, and you were simply interested in hearing what the company had to say. Make it very clear that you don't have plans to leave in the near future, if, in fact, that's the case.
When You Were Considering a Job Change
Were you considering a job change? Janet Scarborough Civitelli, VocationVillage.com, suggests explaining to your supervisor that your standard operating procedure for career management is to do continual assessment of your short and long-term career goals.
If you present your participation in an interview as a chance to learn more about your marketability and competitiveness in the job marketplace rather than a rejection of your current job, your boss may (hopefully) take it less personally.
When You Hate Your Job
Do you hate your job and can't wait to find a new one? Then maybe getting caught isn't such a bad thing. This might be a good opportunity to review the issues you have and perhaps even resolve them.
At the very least, it will clear the air and get the problems on the table. Worst case scenario, you can make plans for an amicable departure and perhaps gain your employer's support and assistance in your job search.
Tell the Truth
Whatever the circumstances - tell the truth. Especially in a case like this where there just isn't much you can say. Lies always seem to find a way to come back to haunt you! Be prepared for an uncomfortable time period while you and the boss get back into a normal routine.
Don't be surprised if your boss is upset for quite a while and consider that he may wonder if and when you are going to resign and whether he should consider replacing you. Just remember - these are routine consequences in pursuit of the job you want to do for the rest of your working career.