When conducting a confidential job search, be careful to avoid making these top nine mistakes, to ensure that your search stays off of your employer’s radar:
1) Attending job fairs. You might think that job fairs are “safe” activities, especially if your employer’s name isn’t on the roster of participating companies at a job fair. This is what one job seeker thought. However, as he made the rounds of the booths, his current boss spotted him, leading to an awkward conversation and his departure from the company sooner than he had originally planned. Don’t let this happen to you! Review the list of participating employers and note the recruiters’ contact information. If you are interested in working for any of the companies, reach out privately, instead of at the job fair.
2) Responding to “blind ads.” Avoid submitting your resume for positions where the company name isn’t listed. More than one job seeker has applied for “the perfect job” only to find it was their job being advertised! Sometimes, you can find out the identity of the company behind the blind ad, if responses are to be sent to a US Post Office Box. If you can identify the company, you can reach out privately…as long as the company isn’t YOUR employer.
3) Job searching at work or on company time; this includes making calls from your employer’s landline or cell; or listing these phone numbers on job search materials. You might get unexpected incoming calls on your work phone from recruiters or prospective employers who find you on LinkedIn or through your company’s directory; but you want to avoid making outbound job search calls on your work landline (or cell) because these calls can be tracked and traced. To be safe, make job search calls from your personal cell when you’re on break or at lunch. Be sure that you are speaking from a place where no one can eavesdrop on your conversation.
4) Using your employer’s computer for job search activities. You can be “outed” by your online search history and inbound / outbound email activity, which your employer could be tracking, unbeknownst to you. Avoid storing your resume on your work computer, using company printers or copiers to make copies of your resume, or connecting to your company’s Wi-Fi to conduct job search activities on your personal cell phone or tablet. And never use your company email address on job search materials. Do your job search activities after-hours from your home computer or through your local library.
5) Posting your resume online. Not only is it likely to be found by someone at your current company, but will also stay out there forever; even removing contact info might not help you from being identified. It’s better to apply only for positions you’re interested in and qualified for, directly on the company website (or through the recruitment staff in that company) instead of through a job board.
6) Scheduling interviews during work hours or at work. You will have to be creative about when – and how – you interview. So, schedule interviews on your day off, before work, during lunch, or after work. Phone or Skype interviews should be conducted offsite, preferably from your home.
7) Posting about your job search on social media. Be sure that you NEVER post ANYTHING on social media about your search or about being unhappy in your current job, regardless of how locked down you think your privacy settings are. Anyone can take a screen shot of your post and share it with someone else.
8) Attending professional association meetings or networking events in full-out job search mode. Instead, go with the purpose of learning something new and making new connections. It’s a good idea to volunteer at the registration desk, so that you can meet all of the attendees, without appearing to be an overly-eager job seeker. If you get good vibes from some of the attendees, you can contact them individually, for an informal networking chat or coffee, outside of the event. Avoid discussing your job search with your new connections, unless know for sure you can trust them.
9) Being deceptive about looking for a job. This is especially important if the question comes from your current boss. If you’re asked, be honest…and this could actually work in your favor, as it did for one of my clients. When her boss found out she was searching, my client used this opportunity to have an open and honest discussion with her boss, about why she wanted to leave the company. Surprisingly, this resulted in a pay raise and better working conditions, because the company didn’t want to lose her.
When you avoid these nine mistakes, you’ll protect your privacy, maintain professionalism at your job, and convey to hiring managers that you respect your employer by keeping your job search separate from your daily work responsibilities.
(c) Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, The Career Success Coach www.career-success-coach.com. All Rights Reserved