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Shhh… 5 Tips to Keep Your Job Search Secret While Employed

The end of the year is a popular time to take stock of where you are in your career. If you determine that you are ready to make a professional change and embark on a job search, it’s important to stay in your current position while you look. You are more attractive to potential employers when you are employed than when you are between jobs.

Looking for a new job while employed can be tricky; here are best practices to help you maintain your professional reputation (and your job) as you begin your job search.

Job Search “Secret” Tips

Be discreet

Don’t tell your boss, coworkers or HR about your job search to protect yourself from negative consequences. A manager could interpret your search as a lack of commitment to your work and overlook you for a raise, promotion or major project. Even worse, the company might look for reasons to fire you, since you were planning to leave anyway. If your colleagues find out, they could lose trust in you and stop treating you as part of the team, not share important information or exclude you from meetings. While there are exceptions, the less you share the better.

Use your own technology

It is critical not to use your work email or phone when looking for a job. Your boss or coworkers can see things on your desk or computer screen (even if you think they can’t), and they can overhear your phone conversations (even if you think you are whispering). Furthermore, some companies even monitor emails and phone conversations on their systems. It’s not worth the risk and ramifications if you are caught.

Try to conduct job search-related activities on your own time, using your personal phone, computer and printer. If an emergency arises and you need to print a resume at work, keep track of every page. It is also a good idea to have your resume prepped in the draft folder of your personal email so it can easily be forwarded without having to download it onto your work computer.

Schedule interviews carefully

Schedule a full or half day of vacation or say you need to leave early when you need a block of time for an interview. If at all possible, avoid scheduling an interview when you know you have to return to the office because it’s hard to put your best foot forward if you’re feeling pressured about time constraints. There are some employers who will see you after hours or very early in the morning, but they are exceptions to the rule.

Choose references strategically

Include current references who can speak to your value and the contributions you’ve made in your most recent role. Contact a vendor, client or partner if they are trustworthy and know of your plans to move on. If you have a close working relationship, they will be able to discuss your accomplishments.

In addition, you can reach out to former employers, colleagues or clients with whom you’ve had strong relationships, who can attest to your value and experience. Update them on what you are doing now. Someone with whom you worked 10 years ago will know your strength in character, dedication and work ethic, but not your current skills or responsibilities.

Avoid negative comments

Never speak disparagingly about current or past jobs, managers, colleagues or companies. Since you will likely be interviewing with people in the same or similar fields as your boss and coworkers, it is possible that they know each other through work, school or professional associations. There is always a chance that the negative things you say could get back to them. More importantly, being negative about others is not a quality that a potential employer wants in an employee, and it could easily impact your chances of securing a job offer.

Looking for a job while employed requires careful planning, thoughtful decision-making and discretion. Staying engaged in your work and maintaining your professional relationships will ensure that you preserve your professional reputation and your job.

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