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How To Keep Your Job Search Secret

6 Strategies To A Confidential Job Search

Leigh Gillatt  •  Careers Advice

How To Keep Your Job Search Secret


Considering a career move? Want to keep it a secret from your current employer? Keeping your job search a secret is almost certainly the best strategy to take.

Broadcasting your job search, could be seen as many as a monumentally bad idea, especially if your plans don’t work out. Yet in this age of widespread personal information availability and social media, it’s all too easy to get discovered by your employer or colleagues due to oversights or absent-mindedness.

What can you do to avoid the possible awkwardness of your boss or co-workers finding out that you’re on the hunt, especially when you’re involved in all sorts of emails and phone correspondence, applying for jobs online, all whilst working full time?

Here's How To Keep Your Job Search Secret:

  1. Avoid making radical, overnight changes to your LinkedIn profile
  2. Don’t search on company time or computers
  3. Don’t take more “Dental Appointments” or longer lunches
  4. Don't utter a word of it to your Colleagues
  5. Don’t avoid your Boss
  6. Dress as you would normally

If you'd like to know more about each of these in more detail then please continue reading below...

1. Avoid Making Radical, Overnight Changes to Your LinkedIn Profile

Many company HR departments make routine checks of employees’ LinkedIn profiles. If they notice a dramatic change in the quality and / or nature of your profile content, then it might raise some eyebrows.

Moreover, if your boss suspects you’re gearing up for a career move, your LinkedIn profile is one of the first places they'll look to get an indication.

Please understand. It's important for you to have an All-Star LinkedIn profile, but the key here is not to make dramatic changes to your profile all at once. Rather, you should gradually incorporate improvements to your profile over time.

In addition, be discerning with the kinds of changes you implement on your profile. For instance, including the phrase:

"In search of a new opportunity”

in your headline is probably a bad move. However, including a keywords in your headline like “Infrastructure Analyst” is more worthwhile, as while it helps you to become more visible in recruiter searches, it still remains discreet from your current employer.

2. Don’t Search on Company Time or Computers

One unbreakable rule you must always follow is to never use your work smartphone or computer to interview, email, search or network for a job. Don’t even use these devices outside of work hours.

Be careful when using your own phone or computer in the office. Someone might see what you’re doing.

Also be aware that if you’re employer has set their IT infrastructure up anything like how I have with Diverse Employment's, connecting your own devices to the company WIFI will inevitably cause you to leave an incriminating trail on every website you visit and interact with.

In addition, never, NEVER print out your CV or application materials in the office! If the printer doesn’t work when you hit “print,” then these documents may emerge from the printer later when you’re not there to retrieve them. 😱

There’s also the possibility that you might forgetfully leave your CV in the printer tray for your manager to find. Just don’t do it!

3. Don’t Take More “Dental Appointments” or Longer Lunches

Employers weren't born yesterday. They can sense something isn't quite right when you suddenly start taking 4-hour lunch breaks, or when you start needing to attend more “hospital” or “dental appointments.”

The solution here is simple. Conduct phone interviews during your lunch break, or take PTO or holidays if you need to attend lengthy interviews in-person.

4. Don't Utter A Word Of It To Your Colleagues

This strategy can often be hard. We can form very close relationships with our colleagues. Sometimes these become deep friendships and the workplace can even start to feel like a family.

Surely you can confide in these people?

Wrong. As harsh as it sounds, you must keep this to yourself. The more people you tell, the more risk you face that the word will get out.

Some people are gossips, and unintentionally let it slip to the wrong person without think what they have just done; all of us are forgetful or absent-minded from time to time. All it takes is for this one particular confidants to let their guard down in front of your boss, or for them to say something careless on social media, and your job search secret is out.

If you need one or two people from work to act as references, pick these individuals carefully. Make sure they really are people you can absolutely trust who will handle the referencing process wisely.

5. Don’t Avoid Your Boss

It can be tempting to distance yourself from your manager or employer when you’re planning a career move. After all, you don’t want to accidentally say something that might suggest you’re thinking of leaving!

However, our advice would be: avoid avoidance!

If you change your behaviour around your boss, it will make them suspicious. Relax and keep the relationship going, and if you’re at a work party with your boss, go easy on the booze.

6. Dress As You Would Normally

It might sound obvious, but if you normally go to work in jeans and a casual shirt, don’t turn up in a suit as if you’re about to go to an interview! You wouldn’t believe how many people actually make this error, but it does actually happen.

If you have to bring your interview attire with you to work, don’t wear it in the office. After you leave to attend the interview, pull into a fast food restaurant or a motorway services and get changed in the toilet area.

Following these 6 strategies should help to keep your job search a secret, giving you a good chance of finding a new role without the embarrassment or awkwardness of being caught out by your current employer during the process.

Eager to start a new career? Browse our list of current job opportunities.