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How to Look for a New Job on the Sly

By Maurie Backman - Feb 23, 2018 at 6:11AM

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Subtlety is key when you're looking for work but are already employed.

If there's one workplace trend that's unlikely to wane anytime soon, it's job-hopping. Now that most companies don't offer pensions or other such long-term incentives to stay, workers are more likely to explore their options freely without having to worry about the benefits they're giving up. Not only that, but in many cases, moving from one job to the next is an efficient means of boosting income -- something all of us could use.

The problem with job-hopping, however, is that it's not so easy to pull off when you're currently employed. After all, the last thing you want to do is risk your existing job on the road to a better opportunity. Thankfully, there are ways you can go about a job search without your employer being any the wiser.

Four professionals sitting in a line


1. Do your job searching on your own time

One of the best and simplest ways to keep your employer in the dark about your job search is to do it outside the office. By all means, comb through online job listings in the evening and on weekends from your personal computer at home -- but avoid engaging in such activity while at your office desk. Along these lines, resist the urge to respond to job search-related emails from your work computer. You never know who might be glancing over your shoulder or exactly what communication your employer is monitoring.

2. Schedule interviews strategically

While it's easy to do your job searching outside of business hours, attending interviews is a whole other story. After all, it's bound to look suspicious when you suddenly start darting out for random appointments at all hours during the day.

The solution? Explain your predicament to prospective employers and ask them to accommodate you. Most companies will understand not only the need for subtlety, but that job seekers can only take so much time off from work before their managers start to complain. Therefore, you might find a hiring manager who's willing to meet with you at 8 a.m. so you can make it to the office at your usual 9 a.m. start time.

If that's not an option, then ask that your initial interviews be conducted over the phone, and schedule them during your lunch break or immediately before or after your working hours. This way, you won't waste precious time off on that first round, and you'll have more flexibility to schedule follow-up in-person interviews during regular business hours.

3. Remind prospective employers to use discretion

If you work in a small industry where everyone knows each other, you never know what sort of information might land in the wrong hands. And the last thing you want is for someone you interviewed with to blab to someone who knows your boss that you're looking for new opportunities. That's why it never hurts to reinforce the fact that you wish to keep your search confidential so as not to compromise your current job. Though you'd think it would be common sense, a little reminder wouldn't hurt.

4. Keep up your solid performance

One final way to look for a new job subtly is to continue to be the steadfast, dedicated employee you've always been. In fact, go ahead and volunteer for new projects and push yourself harder than ever so your manager and colleagues won't have any idea that you're looking for another job. Incidentally, this might also help you leave your current job on a more professional note, as your manager and colleagues will remember that you gave it your all even once you knew your role would probably be winding down.

Moving to a new job could mean more money and a chance to propel your career forward. Just be careful about how you conduct that search, because if it isn't particularly fruitful, you don't want your present employer to find out about it and retaliate.

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