Conducting a “Secret” Job Search

Managing a job search while you are still employed (without your employer finding out)


It is always easier to find a job when you already have one.  This is because candidates who are working currently can be considered more marketable and desirable than those who are actively looking.  This is an unfair, but often requested requirement from hiring companies that may become illegal in the future.  For now, however, it is not a good idea to leave a job if you don’t have another lined up to take its place.   If you are currently employed, this is a strong position to be in and you should make good use of it.   The trick is to find your new position without letting your current employer find out that you are looking.  While it may be a good time to start looking for greener pastures, you do not want to risk losing your current job, so below are some tips for job hunting on the down-low.  Some of these are no-brainers, but some you may not have thought of.


Be discrete

Do you remember last year’s office Christmas party when John told Jerry about Cindy’s big promotion and Jerry told Jane who got really upset because she was up for the same promotion?  Even if something like that hasn’t happened in your workplace, don’t think that it can’t occur.   Do not tell your co-workers (or boss) that you are looking for a job.  Also, if you work on a computer with Internet access, do not search for jobs while at work.  It’s offensive and you never know when someone is looking over your shoulder.


Also, use caution when changing online profiles on sites such as LinkedIn that will make it evident that you are searching for a new job.  If you make revisions, turn the notification status off until you are complete. Don’t upload your resume to any social media sites or job boards. If you do, someone will find it and your secret search won’t be secret for long.



Don’t use your company email address for correspondence, and please don’t put your company email address on your resume.  You never know who is monitoring your system. A lot of companies put flags on keywords just so they can find out who might be conducting a job search. Use your personal email account always. Make sure it is a professional-sounding address and not something inappropriate. Often, creating a new email account just for your job search will prevent your regular inbox from becoming cluttered and allow you to better organize your job search.


References and Interviews

Typically, you will use previous employers as a reference for a potential employer.  Don’t list these references on your resume, if someone decides to be proactive it increases the odds of someone reaching out and letting the cat out of the bag about your job search. Also, it should be common sense that no one contacts your current employer, but it can happen. Make sure you inform your recruiter or interviewer that you need your search to remain confidential.



If you can, schedule job interviews outside your work hours. This isn’t always possible so be upfront with any problems and let your recruiter or prospective employer know good hours for you and request that as much be done on the phone or via video as possible to reduce the number of days you need to take off. A potential employer should appreciate your consideration for your current job and interpret it as a sign that you take your job seriously. When you must take a day off for in-person interviews or travel be sure and use a good excuse.


Has a previous employer ever found out you were conducting a job search? How did that impact your situation?