Steering clear of social media, hiring a recruiter and taking a vacation day to interview are just a few ways to avoid jeopardizing your current job.
Finding a new job can be hard work — especially when you’re already gainfully employed.
Ja’Naea Modest, a 33-year-old nonprofit employee, recently made headlines when she ducked out of the office during her lunch break to attend a job fair where a local news crew happened to be filming. The local CBS station’s camera focused on Modest while she filled out an application for a position on the spot, and later that night her family and friends saw her on TV. She later tweeted a photo of herself on the local news, writing, “I didn’t want my current job to know I was looking for another job. Why the damn news filmed me at the job fair. Smh.” Fortunately for Modest, she’s still gainfully employed.
The majority of workers are so unhappy with their current jobs that 71% say they’re actively looking for a new one, according to a 2017 survey conducted by Mental Health America. So while the unemployment rate for July was just 3.9%, many employed people are still on the hunt for new gigs.
The best way to avoid tipping off your current employer is to use a recruiting agency, human resources specialist Anna Liem told Moneyish. “They’re discreet and they will do a lot on your behalf,” she said. “Just be sensitive to the fact that your employer likely has relationships with local recruiters within the same industry.”
Another way Liem recommends maintaining distance between current and potential future employers is to replace your current employer’s name with ‘Available upon request’ on your resume. “Add a note to your cover letter about providing the name at a later stage in the process,” she said.
Liem also suggests discussing the confidentiality of one’s application with the hiring manager. “We respect that wish and do not check a reference from the current job until an offer has been extended — and to protect ourselves, we have a stipulation in our offer letter that spells that out very clearly,” Andreea Boier, chief human resources officer at Kairos Ventures, told Moneyish.
Christi Doporto, a career specialist at Ama La Vida, suggests avoiding the obvious. “Don’t post your resume on job boards; instead, directly apply to the job posted. And check to make sure your social media sites aren’t reporting on pages you like or places you’ve checked out,” she said.
Similarly, Liem said updating your profiles on job sites like LinkedIn, Monster or Indeed can raise a red flag for your current employer, as can incoming employment verifications, changes in behavior or dress at work and frequent appointments or changes in one’s work schedule. At the same time, she said, “sending long emails during work hours can be a red flag for the future employer.”
One of the most obvious hurdles people struggle to overcome is their interview wardrobe. To avoid drawing attention for dressing up nicer than usual, Boier said, “on your way to the interview, stop by a coffee shop and use their restroom to change into interview clothes.” Liem suggests taking it even one step further: “Take a vacation day, if anything — people can smell an interview on you,” she said.
Avoid posting anything on social media about seeking a new job, advised ArLyne Diamond, president and founder of the consulting firm Diamond Associates. “Don’t ask questions on Facebook — make all of your queries through snail mail, phone or direct email,” said Diamond. And even if you believe you have strong friendships at work, Boier said, don’t share your interviewing plans or schedule with anyone. “Before you head to a job fair, check and make sure your current employer won’t be there,” Doporto cautioned. And when researching the company you’re applying to on LinkedIn, she said, “see if anyone from work has a connection with them; if your boss knows the hiring manager, you might want to proceed with caution.”
Though it may seem like an obvious no-no, Liem said asking around at your current workplace for particular pieces of information such as your start date, an updated company bio or a current description of your job are all things that can let the cat out of the bag. What you should do when thinking about leaving a job is to lay the groundwork for your employer to counter. “Unless your position simply can’t fulfill your needs, it’s wise to communicate your needs to your bosses early on — whether it’s more growth or opportunities for development, a higher salary or a flexible schedule,” Liem said. “If you’ve asked and been denied, these things are your new leverage and your boss won’t view you seeking them elsewhere as disloyal.”
Should your boss or a fellow coworker suspect that you’ve been looking for employment elsewhere, Doporto said it’s best to be honest. “It may lead to a conversation to retain you if you’re interested in staying with the company. If you chose to not be honest, you might damage the relationship you have with your manager and you may need them as a reference in the future; so it’s best not to burn bridges,” said Doporto. Boier advises the opposite however, because in case things don’t pan out with the new role, you’ll likely want to keep your existing job. “Deny it and emphasize your commitment to the current organization. Nothing is done until it’s official with the new employer,” she said.
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