Keeping Your Job Search a Secret at Work

By Joe Stein

Keeping your search private is a necessity for some Job Seekers, but not all. If you are unemployed, this is not a problem you have to deal with. In fact, in this situation, you want as many people as possible to know you are on the market. However, if you are currently employed, you most likely want to keep your search as confidential as possible.
 
For those currently employed, there is usually a concern associated with your employer knowing you are seeking new employment. The most fundamental is that they will end your employment…a situation not many of us can financially afford to occur. You also run the risk of your employer just treating you differently due to having this knowledge. This may mean they start managing you more closely (and finding fault with your performance), or assigning work to others due to the thought you will be leaving.
 
You can run a job search while reasonably expecting that it will be kept a secret from your employer. There are some traps, however, that a Job Seeker may fall victim to that can easily be avoided. Below is a list of six basic tips that can be followed to help you keep it confidential:
 
·         Limit Who You Tell – For many people it is hard to keep a secret, especially when it is your own. People tend to have a desire to confide in other people. This is especially true when you start getting some serious interest in your search. It is human nature to want to express your excitement to someone, or discuss whether it is a good idea to leave. Please keep in mind that the more people you tell, it will increase the likelihood that your search will not remain confidential and a secret to your employer. If you are running a confidential search, I would limit this information to your immediate family (and that definition should be narrow), or your closest friend. 
·         Don’t Change Your Routine – It is amazing how much people watch each other and what they do.  Any deviation from your normal routine will likely be caught by someone at work. Try to adhere as closely as possible to your regular start and end work time. Do what you normally do for lunch. If you have an office, don’t close your door any more than what usually occurs.  Try to schedule interviews either before/after work, or during prescheduled time off.  This way if you do have to adjust your routine for your job search, it will not seem as obvious since it is a one-off activity and not a pattern.
·         Avoid the Topic on Social Media – Over time you may have accumulated people in your network that you work with, or have connections with your employer. Comments associated with your Job Search stand a real chance of getting back to your employer. Even just posting something about being frustrated or dissatisfied with work may start the speculation.
·         Don’t Act Differently – If you enjoy working for your employer, but need to change positions for reasons such as increased pay, better schedule, or a shorter commute, you may feel a little guilty over your search. On the opposite end, if you have harsh feelings towards your employer, then your eagerness to leave may cloud your judgment. Whatever your situation, you want to be the same employee you always have been. Do not avoid others because of guilt over your search. Do not begin to question your Manager or even become argumentative due to your job frustration.
·         Don’t Do Your Search At Work – Do not use your work equipment to conduct your search.   You do not know if your IT Department is monitoring website usage or e-mail utilization. Do not conduct phone calls from work where others can overhear the conversation. If you have an office, be sure that the walls are thick enough that your conversation will not be overheard (or better yet, try to schedule before/after work).
·         Be Careful of Anonymous Postings – You don’t see postings without the employer explicitly listed very often anymore. These are called confidential or anonymous postings. If you do see one of interest consider whether it is possible that it could be from your employer. If you believe this is a possibility, you may want to focus on other opportunities available to you.
 
A Job Seeker should be able to keep his or her job search a secret with minimal effort. The secret to keeping your search confidential mainly centers on watching your own behavior, both in actions and in what you say and to who.