The undercover job hunter

If you are considering a job move, you probably don’t want your current employer to become aware of your job search activities. After all, you may not find what you are looking for, or just change your mind and want to stay! 

So, how do you pursue your job search without being spotted? Here are some steps that any good undercover job hunter will deploy:

1.  The need-to-know principle 

Before telling anyone of your job search intention consider this. What is the benefit to you of them knowing? Generally, other than you feeling good about ‘sharing’ there is little upside to telling your colleagues of your plans and plenty of downside. Unless you plan to use a trusted contact as a reference, keep your plans to yourself.

2. Covert voice communication

If you are telephoning a resume writer to get your resume refreshed or touching base with recruiters there is only one number to call from and to be called on. Your own. Never your Employers.

Giving out your work number to recruiters and potential future employers sends all the wrong messages. Haven’t you got a job to do?

Also, don’t make or take a sensitive recruitment-related call in an open office environment. It’s amazing how tuned-in colleagues are to headhunt calls - after all they may have had some themselves. If a such a call comes in on your mobile, defer taking it until you are clear of the office.

3. Email - secure and specialised

The same goes for email. Never give your work email address to a potential employer or recruiter. All your communication should come from a personal email account. Work emails can be monitored and in any case, you’ll look tacky using your current employer's email address.

Just make sure your email address is a professional one, not shared with your partner or using a childish monicker. ( sends all the wrong messages!) If necessary, create a unique email account for your job search and check it daily. This will avoid the loss of important emails in the pile of junk we all receive these days.

4. Social media red flags 

Employers are particularly attuned to changes in LinkedIn activity. If you suddenly start connecting with recruiters, seeking recommendations from colleagues and clients, sprucing up your profile or heaven forbid - saying you are ‘open to opportunities’ - guess what. Alarm bells will ring! 

The best approach is to keep your LinkedIn profile up to date on a monthly basis all the time - and not splurge on changes all at once. That way the new activity won’t be noticed. Turn off the public broadcast element of your profile as you make changes.

You can also make good use of your private social media accounts (Facebook or whatever) by following interesting companies, individuals or recruiters for useful insights. However, once again, don’t overtly mention your job search intentions. 

5. Unexplained absences and clandestine meetings (going for interviews!)

Long lunches, late starts and early finishes can be dead giveaways that you are on the interview trail, but you will probably have to use them. Just don’t overdo it. If you cannot schedule out of hours interviews then book the occasional day off to accommodate them. Not only will you cover your tracks, but you will also be better prepared for the interviews and less hurried than coming from your workplace. 

6. Confidentiality

Most recruiters are very careful with confidentiality, but don’t rely on it. You need to be clear that you do not want your name spruiked around for potential openings, or your résumé dumped in a publicly accessible database. You also need assurance that no calls will be made to background check you at your current employer until you give the OK. Similarly when going for interviews with prospective employers you need to impress on them your desire for confidentiality.

7. Pick your references with care

Pick referees who know you well and have a positive view of your work. Often an employer will want references from your last two direct managers. This will be difficult for your current role without spilling the beans but should be possible to achieve for past positions. Just make sure that you keep in touch with them, brief them on the role applied for and warn them when they are likely to get a call. Remind them also of your desire to keep your job search confidential!

As always, if you have any questions or comments we will be pleased to hear from you.

For more information or help

See our Job Market Coaching page, email us or call on 1300 97 87 66We will be pleased to help.