You know that feeling — fear your boss is going to find out you actually hate your job and you’re doing everything you can to jump ship ASAP. It’s as though your boss is looking over your shoulder while you scroll through job listings, ready to pile on more work as punishment for being disloyal.
Legally, it’s OK to search for a new job while you’re already employed, according to The Ladders. But, when it’s on company time, it could get you in trouble. Even if your boss finds out you’re searching for new job on your own time, you risk broken trust and uncomfortable retaliations.
You need to be as discreet as possible while still making the connections and preparing yourself for your next career move. Although you can’t attack your job search like a tiger, there are ways to search for a job while employed without raising any suspicions.
Here are a few tips that might help:
1. Keep your professional profiles updated.
Suddenly adding information to your LinkedIn profile might set off an alarm, especially if your boss sees the announcement in their newsfeed. Consistently update your profile to match your accomplishments as they occur. Do this for all of your professional profiles, even on job boards, and social media.
If it’s too late, and you really need to take care of your bare bones LinkedIn profile, hide your activity updates and begin adding information gradually over the course of a couple of weeks. Adjust your privacy settings on all your social media accounts so your boss and coworkers can only see limited activity on your profile.
2. Block off regular time to work on your personal brand.
Spend an hour or two each day before or after work searching for jobs and working on your resume, cover letter, marketing documents, and portfolio. Do whatever it takes to separate your individual professional identity and skill set from your current job. Design a logo for yourself. Design digital business cards to market yourself as a consultant for the skills you have.
3. Follow opinion leaders online.
One of the most empowering things you can do in any job search is to follow opinion leaders in your industry, reading their articles online. Not only does this help you stay current in industry news, but also many of these people are entrepreneurs who have escaped the doldrums of corporate life and are happy doing what they love. Their ideas may spark ideas of your own.
4. Become an opinion leader.
If you have wisdom or experience to impart on others, why not become an opinion leader yourself? Those who share their thoughts with an online community attract a following. This might be an indirect way of finding a job, but you might be able to get your next boss to join your audience. Keep things professional and discuss industry topics — don’t write anything about problems at work or your job search.
5. Use your personal devices to search.
You can use your phone or personal laptop to scope out niche job boards that provide employer contact information, like ours. Contact employers using a personal email account only. Do not use any method of communication related to work so no lines are crossed.
Limit your job search activity at work as much as possible, including emails, phone calls and even texting. Use your lunch break and leave the office to communicate with potential employers.
6. Keep a working portfolio.
No matter what job you currently have, always keep a digital folder on a personal storage device of projects you’ve completed at work — as long as they aren’t confidential. Ask your boss what is OK to use in a portfolio and what is not when you begin at a new job. But if you missed that chance, review any confidentiality agreements you may have signed.
Host your digital portfolio online and add new pieces as you go. If you keep up with your portfolio as you go, you won’t struggle scrambling your pieces together when a hiring manager asks for work samples. Just nonchalantly send a link to your online portfolio via email on your phone, even from the parking lot at work.
7. Travel and make friends.
If you have the opportunity to travel, don’t miss this as a chance to network for a new job. If you’re traveling for leisure or a hobby, this will be a breeze. If you’re traveling for your current job, you’re going to have to be sneaky.
Meet as many people as possible. While you can talk about what you currently do, be positive about your work. Then, talk about any passions you have relating to your ideal job. Talk about your personal goals and aspirations. Ask the people you meet about what they do and what their aspirations are. Identify any skills you have that may help them on any of their current projects — as your company’s ambassador or as a skilled freelancer. Exchange information before you leave or connect online.
8. Schedule interviews outside of work hours.
Nothing sets off the job search alarm like several sudden mid-day appointments that pop up within the week. You should remain loyal to your current company even while searching for a new job.
As much as possible, schedule interviews outside of work hours. If needed, you can use your lunch break or comp time, but if you do, plan as much in advance as possible. You don’t want to take away from the time your company is paying you for. It doesn’t look good on your integrity record. If potential employers notice your disregard for your current company’s time, they may infer your potential to disregard their time.
Searching for a job requires tact as you keep things running at your current job, but it’s not impossible to do gracefully. Though you shouldn’t feel burdened by your current job in your job search, be careful that one pursuit doesn’t affect the other negatively. There are many ways you can remain in a constant, indirect job search– through networking, updating your online presence, and building relationships. Keep at it, and opportunities will come up!
What are some other sneaky ways you’ve searched for a job while you were employed? Share with us in the comments below!