The 10 Do's and Don'ts of a Confidential Job Search
Have new opportunities caught your eye in the last while even though you have a steady job? Perhaps...
-- A new 9 to 5 role in another sector may offer better growth and salary plus bonuses minus bringing extra work home every night.
-- You could trade in your long travel time for a shorter commute time or even work remotely for greater flexibility.
-- A possible restructuring or change may be on the horizon according to company forecasts and industry news.
-- Changes are already occurring with staffing cutbacks that are affecting growth as well as product or service lines. It may be time to move on.
-- The organizational culture or work environment is getting out of sync with your needs and values. You desire more creativity and collaboration in your work, and want to really challenge yourself to make a bigger impact.
-- You are thinking of a possible transition or relocation even though you're doing very well in your current role and are highly respected by the team.
The above scenarios are quite common and reflect possible reasons why people want to engage in a confidential job search.
One of the best times to search for a new job is actually when you already have one.
Even if you are merely exploring your options, the last thing you want is your current employer to find out before the right timing.
Take care how you navigate your job search.
Otherwise, your job may be in jeopardy, or you could face some tough questions by your current employer that warrant an honest explanation about your agenda and suspecting actions.
Most people in a current role want to keep their job search confidential unless they have directly informed their boss or team in advance of their plans to move on.
What many professionals fail to realize is that most of their actions, conversations, or emails, especially on a company computer, can be tracked and are not entirely confidential.
Here are some helpful tips on executing a confidential job search while you are working:
1. In the cover letter when applying, you might want to signal to the prospective employer the following P.S. line: Please keep this information confidential.
This will ensure that your current employer won’t be notified by the prospective employer and that you won’t disrupt your team by exploring other alternatives.
2. Double-check your LinkedIn privacy settings before you update your profile and/or aggressively build your network.
Don’t make it obvious on LinkedIn or social media that you’re looking for a new position. Avoid indicating clues in headlines such as “currently seeking new opportunities,” in the summary or other key areas. It is amazing how many people post clues that let others know they are searching for work, even though their goal is to conduct a confidential job search.
Turn off your activity broadcasts before making updates.
Also add new connections on LinkedIn gradually instead of all at once.
Respect any confidentiality guidelines/policies concerning your current company or role. Mind the quality of your posts and LI profile content in the experience section or other areas.
Social media is the first place that employers or colleagues will look to find out about you, your expertise, or career goals.
Use your discretion.
3. Be cautious when attending job fairs and employment networking events.
Do your research to find out who is attending the employment or networking event if possible.
Even if your current company isn’t listed as a participating employer, be prepared –– they could sign up for a booth at the last minute.
Of course, colleagues you know may be at that event or may know someone you know. Remember the six degrees of separation principle. Be prepared with how you will need to possibly address this scenario without letting the cat out of the bag, so to speak.
4. Don’t conduct your job search at work or on company time.
Of course, be respectful of the fact that you are being paid to do your work for that company and role on their time. Juggling your time between navigating an external job search while at work (including on your lunch hour) and handling your responsibilities can impact your focus and performance, not to mention the company's bottom line.
Avoid making calls from your work phone or on your company cell phone.
Don’t list either of those numbers on your résumé or references!
5. Keep your job search activities limited to your home computer.
The search history on your company computer is traceable. All your inbound and outbound emails are probably being logged or tracked.
Never use your company email for applying or communicating job search activities.
Many people make the mistake of accidentally storing their résumé on their work computer, or using company printers or copiers to make copies of their résumé. Avoid this at all costs.
The key tip is utilize your home computer for job search activities, including tracking career milestones.
6. Avoid posting about your job search on social media.
This includes avoid posting about the status of your current job either, including the fact that you may be unhappy in your current role or are searching for better opportunities.
No matter how secure your privacy settings are, anyone can take a screen shot of your post and share it!
7. Be careful who you tell that you're seeking a new job.
If you do tell a family member, colleague in a professional association, or old friend that you are job searching, inform them that you’re looking for a job in confidence and to ask them to please keep your conversation private. The irony of a confidential job search is that in time, this news can easily pass through the grapevine without you even knowing.
Remember the six degrees of separation? Well, word gets around pretty quickly. Things can also get misinterpreted along the way if you or others are not careful with communication.
Be especially vigilant about telling co-workers or former co-workers, as a colleague might accidentally let it slip at the water cooler that you’re searching for a new job! After some time, your "confidential" job search may not be exactly confidential. Plan wisely and navigate this accordingly.
8. If you are working with a recruiter or more than one recruiter, mention you’re conducting a confidential job search.
Before you are submitted as a candidate to a company, ask the recruiter to fully inform you of the details. Mention beforehand to the recruiter your goal of maintaining a confidential job search.
9. Use a new, free Gmail account for your job search.
Make sure you don’t include your name or any personally identifying information in the email address.
Avoid using an inappropriate or unprofessional email. Example email@example.com. This can get you screened out fast!
10. Maintain your current job progress while you’re searching for a new job.
Avoid getting so focused on your job search that you end up compromising your performance in your present role and actually burning bridges. You may be thinking of leaving your current role within the next while, but you're still working for that company and are accountable for meeting strategic objectives.
Do your very best until the end!
Be proactive and use your discretion.
Go above and beyond with what you’re doing in your current job.
By following the strategies above, you’re taking proactive steps to make sure your job search remains confidential as best as possible.
Once you have secured a new role, be sure to give your current employer at least 2 weeks of notice and leave on the best possible terms with solid references. Keep in touch with colleagues and sustain positive relationships.
Remember that you may have spent months or even years building and maintaining trusted alliances. These can and may continue to serve as valuable resources and supports down the road in your career. Job search can be tricky sometimes. Handle things with tact and diplomacy. Balance logic with intuition.
For more information on carving out a solid job search strategy, contact Creative Horizons Communications.
Creative Horizons Communications is a one-stop, award-winning holistic career services firm in Halton, helping jobseekers of all levels embrace their next career milestone and make an empowering transition in a competitive job market.