There may come a point when you decide that you no longer wish to work for your current employer. Maybe the salary isn't great and your company doesn't seem to want to budge in that regard. Or maybe the compensation is fine but your company culture is lousy, and you find yourself growing increasingly unhappy each day.
The fact that the job market is pretty strong right now makes it a great time to kick off a job search. But doing so while fully employed is easier said than done, and the last thing you want is for your boss or colleagues to figure out that you're looking. If that happens, you risk repercussions ranging from poor treatment to termination before you have another job lined up.
The solution? Go about that job search strategically. Here's how.
1. Limit your job search to non-office hours
You probably take the occasional break at work to check your personal email, chat with your officemates, or stretch your legs, so it stands to reason that you shouldn't have a problem logging onto a job site to submit a couple of applications in between tasks. But tempting as that may be, don't do it. You never know what online activity your employer is monitoring, and if you look for new work on your employer's dime, that could, in some cases, be grounds for dismissal.
A better bet? Do your searching from your home laptop, not your work laptop, and hunt for jobs on your own time. It's an easy way to avoid getting caught.
2. Schedule your interviews strategically
If you typically dress casually for work and suddenly come in wearing a business suit three times in the same two-week span, and then take longer lunches than usual, your colleagues and manager are apt to realize that you're hunting for a position outside your company. Rather than clue them in, try scheduling interviews early in the morning or late in the day so you're not forced to show up to your office looking suspiciously professional.
Similarly, you can ask the companies you're talking to if they're willing to conduct initial interviews by phone. That way, you'll likely have an easier time fitting them in, and you won't disappear as often during the workday.
Another option? Use personal or vacation days to interview, and schedule multiple meetings on the same day. That way, you're out once, which shouldn't necessarily arouse suspicion.
3. Step up your game at your current job
Employees with one foot out the door tend to slack off while they wait for an outside offer. If you do the opposite, it'll likely quash any doubts your employer might have about your loyalty. To this end, you can volunteer to head up new projects, offer to come in on a weekend when an emergency creeps up, or simply be more willing to assist your colleagues when they need help.
When you work full-time, finding a new job without getting caught is no easy feat. But remember, it's in your best interest to land an offer without your employer knowing, so it pays to make every effort to hunt for a new role on the sly.