Discretion is the key to successful job hunting

Keep it subtle, recruiters say

Job hunting can be tricky when you’re trying to do it quietly, without your boss finding out you’re thinking about leaving.

Wall Street Journal reporter Erin White writes that it is harder than ever to conceal job hunting nowadays.

“Casual dress codes make your nice interview suit more conspicuous. Many employers are using monitoring software to track their employees' web surfing, emails and instant messages. In addition, open plan office layouts can complicate your efforts to conduct job-search phone calls discreetly.”

However, on the upside, things like telecommuting can give job-changers the freedom to make and receiving job hunting phone calls without anyone overhearing.

White says that if people post their CV on an online jobs database, they should keep their identity secret and describe their employ generically.

“If you work for Procter & Gamble, for example, you could refer to it as a ‘large consumer-products company’ in your résumé.”

Casual dress codes can be overcome by going somewhere to change before attending a job interview. White writes about one woman who started wearing a suit once or twice a week so if she did dress up for a job interview, it would not be quite so obvious.

White says people can even book a hotel room as their office for the day.

“The unconventional arrangement makes sense if you can't work from home, dislike using a cellphone to call potential employers, and lack a private office at work. Lunchtime absences are less noticeable.”

According to financial correspondent Michael Estrin, there are some obvious and not-so-obvious ways to keep the job hunt under wraps.

Obviously people should look for work in their own time, use a private email address and phone, not discuss the job-hunting with coworkers, not lie to their boss about going to an interview (instead, schedule interviews around work) and be cautious about posting a CV to a job board.

Estrin also suggests contacting a headhunter.

“…headhunters have access to jobs that aren't always publicised and, because they're looking for top candidates that are often already employed in the industry, they understand the value of discretion.”

Candidates should also ensure that their application remains confidential. “You don't want to ask for confidentiality directly, because it's a little like asking someone you just met to keep a secret, but there are ways to signal your intent.”

Networking is another way to job-hunt discreetly.

“Remember, good networking doesn't just happen overnight. People who succeed in making valuable contacts do so because they make it almost like a second full-time job.”

Estrin says people should leave their current employer out of their list of references. “There's no rule that says that you have to use a reference from your current job. If you've been in the workforce for a few years, you probably have many potential references.”

If a job hunter’s boss does find out they have been to a job interview, Alison Doyle recommends that they act quickly.

She suggests people explain that the job interview was a chance to learn more about their marketability and competitiveness in the job marketplace and that it's not a rejection of their current job.

However, if a job hunter does hate their job, Doyle says it could be a chance to clear the air and “get the problems on the table”.

She says it is important to tell the truth even if that isn’t easy.

“Be prepared for an uncomfortable time period while you and the boss get back into a normal routine. Don't be surprised if your boss is upset for quite a while and consider that he may wonder if and when you are going to resign and whether he should consider replacing you.”

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