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 Don’t Tip Them Off That You Are Looking

By Joe Stein

One of the biggest hurdles the currently employed have to overcome in order to begin his or her job search is the fear that they will be found out about. There are some companies that will either do nothing with the information, or actually attempt to understand why you want to leave (and possibly even try to do something to change that). On the opposite side, however, many employers will look negatively on your job search, and may even decide to end your employment over it.
 
Unless you are positive regarding how your current employer will react to the news of your job search, you are probably going to want to keep everything a secret. So, how do you keep from tipping off that you are in the midst of a job search? Below are some tips to consider.
 
·        Don’t Tell Anyone – This one seems obvious, but it is the one that is often difficult to follow and most likely to breach your secret. Once you have decided to leave (perhaps it is because you are unhappy in your current position, or you have found there is an excellent market for your talent) it is very tempting to want to tell someone. Most people have colleagues at work they speak to and maybe even have become friends with over the years. The problem is that everyone you tell (even if it is someone you believe can be trusted) increases your likelihood that the news will circulate. If you don’t tell anyone, then most likely any thoughts that your Manager will have about your leaving is merely based on speculation and will not result in any action.
·         No Behavioral Change – It is very hard to keep your behavior the same, but any change will likely alert your Manager that something is occurring (even if he or she does not exactly know what it is). For some, it is tempting to become more cheerful at the thought of leaving, and others may get short or edgy having reached a point of “no return” with the company. For most, however, the start of a job search causes someone to become more quiet or withdrawn, either because you do not want anyone to find out or you are feeling a bit guilty over departing. Go through your normal routine, whether that it is the start/end of day greetings or lunch time gathering, nothing should change.
·        Keep Up the Good Work – Just because you may be leaving, does not mean your work should suffer. You do not know how long your search will take, and you do not want to become a performance issue. You are also still being paid by your current employer, and that means they are owed an honest effort. This may especially be tough if you are starting a new project and are not sure if you will be able to finish it. If you believe your current employer will not react well to yoursearch, I recommend starting the project and keep good notes so that someone can easily pick it up if you depart.
·        Limit the Schedule Changes – There are only so many times you can come in a little late, leave early, or have a doctor/dental appointment before suspicions will begin. If you can, try to arrange your interviews for before or after your regular work hours. I prefer prior to the workday, since you are fresh and do not have to worry about how to escape a frantic work situation.
·        Be Visible – If you have an office, it is tempting to close the door to speak to Recruiters or Hiring Managers. If you normally have lots of conference calls (with the door closed), then this may go without detection; for many though, this will be a source of concern. Try to keep your door open and be as visible as possible. If you can, try to schedule any calls before/after work, and remember: business as usual is the focus.
·        Run a Confidential Search – If you are networking for leads and advice, then make sure your contacts know that you are keeping your search a “secret”. Avoid applying for any postings that do not name the company hiring for the position, unless you are sure it is not the one you work for. You can also go through WNYJOBS.com and its “Employed, but Open to Opportunities” option to run a confidential search through their website. Of course, never use company resources (such as computers and printers) in your job search because not only is it not right to do, but it increases your risk of being found out.
 
You should not let the fear of having your job search becoming public keep you from seeking a new position that will provide you more compensation, better benefits, a superior work environment, and/or a better commute. All you need to do is avoid tipping off your current employer that you are looking, and the advice above will assist you in accomplishing this goal.
 
As always, best of luck in your job search.