At times, job seeking can feel like an undercover spy movie. After all, if your boss were to find out you’re looking for a new job, your current job could come to an end.
Although it may seem silly at times, the importance of using discretion in your search can truly not be overstated. Here are a few tips on keeping your search under wraps.
- Don’t tell your coworkers – At work, we often befriend our coworkers. In some cases, they were our friends before we started working at our company. We have built trust in them and so we feel like we can share the burning thing on our minds – we’re looking for a job. But, beware! Your friend is still your coworker. They may feel the obligation to protect their own job by telling the company you’re looking. Or, they may have a tough time keeping secrets. Either way, if your news gets out too soon, you could be without a job.
- Don’t tip them off with LinkedIn – This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be updating your LinkedIn profile. In fact, you should – all the time. The fact that a few things have changed here and there shouldn’t be unusual. But, if you are doing a mass update, ensure that your notifications are turned off. Have you ever received an e-mail from LinkedIn that a friend has received a promotion, or has a new title? These notifications go out automatically when you update your profile if you don’t specify in your preferences that you don’t want them to be sent. While you’re looking for a job, take the time to turn off these notifications.
- Be discrete when you tell friends you’re looking – Often at dinner parties or networking events, we update our friends on our careers. These social gatherings can often be a good time to let those around you know you’re looking. But, if you do disclose your status, do it quietly and carefully. The last thing you want is to become the center of gossip that finds its way back to your office.
- Don’t post your grievances on social media – Let’s face it. If things were perfect at work, you probably wouldn’t be looking. Even if your Facebook wall is private and even if you aren’t friends with coworkers there, do not post negative things about your boss, coworkers, or workplace. And, keep any interviews to yourself. The world is small. You’d be surprised at how quickly things can get back.
- Don’t suddenly begin dressing formally at work – One of the biggest visual clues that you’re looking is how you’re dressing. If you typically wear jeans and a polo shirt to work and you’ve started wearing suits every day, people are going to wonder what’s up. If you have an interview during the workday, consider packing your suit in your car. Worst case scenario, you can change in a public restroom after you leave work, on your way to the interview.
- Be consistent – Even though you may be tired of your job and sure you’re going to land another one soon, keep delivering the same quality of work you always have. Show up at the same time. Leave at the same time. Produce good quality work. First, this will keep people from suspecting you’re looking. Second, it’s important to maintain your integrity as you wrap up one job for the next.
Last, but not least, be prepared to let it roll off your back if someone suspects you’re looking for a job and brings it up to you. When I worked in corporate, I would often wear a suit to work. About five years ago, I was walking through the hallway at work when a C-level executive stopped me. “Wow! You look great! Do you have an interview today?!” I quickly (and casually replied), “Every day’s an interview!” The executive was so impressed with my response that he completely forgot his original question. Truth be told, I DID have an interview that day! But, I was able to dodge being discovered because I had been wearing suits to work frequently and I didn’t react when asked about it.
Being a stealthy interviewer is both helpful to your job search – and to preserving your current job. Just because you’re interviewing, there’s no guarantee you’ll get (or want) an offer from a particular organization. Keep things quiet to protect your current position and future opportunities.
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