How to Run a Secret Job Search (Without Losing Your Current Job)

If you’re not happy in your current workplace, you might be itching to find a new career. But be careful when sending out resumés in response to job listings—if you’re not careful, your current boss might find out you’re seeking work. That could lead to a hostile work environment, or, worse, you might find yourself without a job at all.

Here are some strategies for running a job hunt while employed and avoiding an unpleasant scenario.

Don’t look at job sites or contact potential employers from workplace computers. The average workplace offers no privacy rights to its employees; your boss is free to monitor your work email account and web visit history even if she hasn’t specifically told you that she’s doing so. If you’re spending time on the job scouting out, you’re likely to get called out for your behavior.

Use your personal time for scheduled interviews. If you’re called in for an interview, don’t pretend that you have an appointment or that you’re taking a sick day—lying to your boss rarely ends well. If the potential workplace is close enough to get to during your lunch hour, try to schedule it during that time; if not, you may need to take a personal day if the interview can’t be done after-hours. If your boss asks what you’re doing, simply declare that you have “personal business” to attend to, recommends the Wall Street Journal.

Keep quiet about your job hunt. It may be tempting to tell your cubicle buddy that you’re seeking a new position, but try to keep your lips sealed: It can be difficult for colleagues to resist spreading the gossip, and you probably don’t want your supervisors to find out until you’re ready to announce your resignation. If you want to control the message, don’t tell anyone until you’re ready to leave.

Don’t let your productivity suffer. When you’ve already mentally checked out from your current job, you might find your work ethic begin to suffer. Pay extra attention to how well you’re meeting your workplace goals: Even if you’re not motivated to perform at top capacity, letting your performance slip may alert your employer that you’re on the hunt—or even put you in line for a pink slip.

Be honest with potential employers about your need for secrecy. When you send your resumé to a potential employer, include a cover letter that mentions that you have not told your current boss that you’re looking for work, so discretion is appreciated. If you aren’t clear about this, you may find potential employers calling your current boss for a reference without any warning, so it pays to take precautions.

If and when you do land a new job, try to be respectful of your current workplace by providing at least two weeks’ notice before you plan on making the move. Your boss may not be thrilled by the news regardless, but there’s no reason to make things uncomfortable until your job change is a sure thing.

  • Category Career Advice