Five ways to keep your job search a secret

January is one of the best times of year to begin a job search. After the Christmas shutdown, key decision makers have finished their vacations and are around for hiring, new yearly budgets are available and fresh projects and clients are beginning. For these reasons and more, now’s the time to be getting your CV out there if you’re looking for a change of role or career in 2017.

But looking for a new job when you’re already in one can be tricky, and even more so if you’re office bound. Nowadays much recruitment is done online via job boards etc, but this can be publicly visible information, and it could be easy enough for your HR manager to stumble upon your CV or the fact that you’re actively seeking new employment. Job hunting is often viewed as something disloyal and a threat to company confidentiality, and so unfortunately, being found out can sometimes end up putting your current job in jeopardy.

But there are ways and means to be discreet in your job search, and conduct most of it in ‘stealth mode’ without being disloyal. Here are some pointers on how to make sure your hunt falls under the radar…

1. LinkedIn recently made things a little easier with the rollout of a new feature called Open Candidate, which allows you to tell recruiters that you’re seeking a new role, without your current employer finding out. When you opt into the new feature, you have the opportunity to share a few specifics about yourself and the sort of job you’re looking for, and while there’s no 100% guarantee, LinkedIn will do its best to prevent your company and any subsidiaries from seeing this information. Trials to date have apparently proven successful.

2. Another way to stealthily apply for work is through a ‘cyber-safe’ CV. It can be a risky strategy to rely on a job site or board to protect your identity and privacy, and it’s far better to take matters into your own hands. Furthermore in some cases, a job seeker protecting their identity becomes more attractive than one who doesn’t, as it indicates they have a current job worth protecting and value the need for confidentiality.

A cyber-safe CV offers limited contact information, including just your personal mobile number  (with a personal and non-work related voicemail set up) and a web-based email address containing your initial and surname maybe e.g. clyons@gmail.com. In addition, the name of your current employer is replaced with an accurate, but generic description, e.g. ‘Lego’ would become ‘global construction toy manufacturer’. Unique job titles which may also identify you should be modified to something that’s still accurate but a bit more general. Any other keywords, trademarks or brand terms that may come up in a database search and associate you with your current employer, should also be removed.

3. Within your CV, or the covering message which some online jobsites offer a feature for, it can helpful to stipulate the times of day that you’re available for communication. If you specify that you can only be reached ‘outside of office hours’ this is limiting, but recruiters will understand and respect why. Often HR and recruitment professionals work later hours than normal to allow for such contact.

Most employers will want to carry out interviews during standard office hours, which can often be the trickiest part of a job search. It’s important to show loyalty to your existing employer by not faking a meeting or sickness, in order to make an interview. If you know that a new job is on the cards it can be helpful to save annual leave specifically for this reason, and if this isn’t possible, explain to your boss that you have a personal matter to attend to so that no deception is involved. This will also make things easier when the time comes to hand in your notice.

4. It goes without saying that any job search activity should be carried out at home, outside of office hours, on a personal computer or device. It can be common practice for employers to monitor use of email, web browsing history, and even phone calls and voicemail. While it can be tempting to login to your personal email on your work computer during office hours when you’re anxiously awaiting feedback on a recent interview, to avoid any slip-ups make sure your digital trail is restricted to your own assets.

5. Networking is undoubtedly one of the best ways to boost your personal profile when you’re seeking your next career move, and events can be a great place to introduce yourself to key influencers and decision makers. While it might be too risky and unethical to be upfront about the fact that you’re actively looking for a new job (particularly if current colleagues are with you), it’s possible to reframe conversation around the fact that you’re passionate about your career and always considering your next move.You can talk about the fact that you’re doing well in your current role, but always looking for a new challenge. This will position you as someone who’s ambitious, but not desperate to get out of your current role, which is often quite an attractive proposition.

If you follow these principles, it will hopefully ensure that you move onto your next role in an amicable way, without burning any bridges with your current employer. Good luck!

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