Employed but exploring your options? 5 keys to your covert job search

Employed but exploring your options? 5 keys to your covert job search

We are almost two years into a global pandemic that has changed the way we work and reshaped the workforce. The job market is trending strongly in your favor. That’s because there are currently one and a half jobs posted for every unemployed American and that gap is predicted to keep growing. The Great Resignation and shocking inflation rates are forcing employers to reassess how they compensate and hire standout talent. 

So, whether you’re passively perusing the positions that pop into your LinkedIn feed or you’re actively looking for a more attractive salary and benefits package, now is the perfect timing for your stealth job search. It’s essential that while you assess what’s out there, you don’t inadvertently send stress signals to your current employer.

Even if you’re just casually flirting with other options, keeping your job search under the radar is mission-critical to avoid jeopardizing your current gig or changing inner team dynamics with others vying for your position. Managers are already hyper-aware that workers are leaving their existing roles in droves. There’s no reason to signal your boss that you may be next.

Here are five musts to keep your job search confidential and above the board:

1. Keep your job search to yourself.

One of the keys to keeping your shifting career ambitions confidential is not making them known to anyone outside your immediate family household. Do not tell your work bestie or teammates under any circumstances before an offer is received and accepted. Stay vigilant and guarded against dropping any hints on Twitter, Facebook, Tiktok, or other forms of social media where friends connected to your employer can see and screenshot your “interview outfits”. If you’re actively employed and interviewing elsewhere, avoid dropping an Insta-bomb and keep it on the extreme down low.

2. Don’t post your resume online.

Exercise caution when posting your resume openly on job sites where your employer can come across them. Because most organizations are active in recruiting mode and will be with a fresh new hell of hiring challenges for the foreseeable future, your HR department might be more likely to stumble across your postings on job sites. 

While you’re at it, you may also consider turning off the “open to” other opportunities on LinkedIn option. Recruiting professionals from a sister or parent company or outside recruiting agency might spot that setting on the fly. Instead, stay in stealth mode, only applying for positions that look incredible and responding to recruiters who approach you as a passive candidate when it feels right.

3. Hold off that LinkedIn overhaul.

Nothing signals that you’re looking for other career options like a personal re-brand online. Be cautious and gradual about changes you apply to your LinkedIn and professional presence online. If you’re looking for recommendations from existing colleagues, don’t spam request them all at once, that can quickly land you on your manager’s radar for positions they may need to fill next and lead to some seriously uncomfortable conversation starters on your next one-on-one meeting. So, fight the urge to update your professional headline and summary and press pause on your plans for a new professional headshot. It can all wait for the next position.

4. Don’t go MIA without any explanation during the workday.

You already have a job, so your Monday-Friday work schedule is probably already inundated. Be mindful of how many appointments you schedule during the workday and when they conflict with other priorities and meetings for your current employer. Opt for end-of-day meetings or lunch hour Zoom interviews whenever possible. If you have a day of interviews, be mindful of your current employer and call out sick. You don’t have to tell your manager why you can’t work, just let them know you need to take a sick day.

5. Keep your head in the game.

If you’re a star player on your existing team, it can become pretty apparent to your team members and managers if you’re looking at other job options if you start dropping the ball, missing meetings, and seeming just generally less invested in your job. You’re only human. Let’s face it, even passively interviewing can get distracting. You might find yourself spending less time laser-focused on knocking out your priorities and more time playing out the drama of what a resignation would look like or fantasizing about what an income boost or title change can mean for your family and career path. 

It’s essential to stay in the moment and focus on your position at present. In a remote workforce, it’s more obvious than you’d think when employees become less engaged and more distracted. Even if you do decide to jump ship for another job, you don’t want to burn bridges. Instead, you want to end your time with your employer on a high note because no matter how great this new opportunity might seem, it’s always good to have a reference or recommendation letter to fall back on if your goals change again. The money may be, but the grass isn’t always greener. 

Be prepared to have a candid conversation if your manager approaches you.

If your boss asks if you’re active on the search, be ready to be open and honest in a way that doesn’t put your position in peril. You can tell them you haven’t been actively searching for another job, but you do take the occasional interview when recruiters approach you to see what’s out there. Or you can cite the rising cost of living and salary average for your role as an incentive to casually keep an eye on the job market as you position yourself and your family for success. Dream job or not, we’re all at work to earn a living—a good manager will understand that and appreciate your honesty.

Don’t try to pull an ultimatum on your manager to call off your discussions with recruiters or tell your supervisor that you’re actively searching because you’ve had it with your coworker, the company culture, or any other working grievances. Keep things positive and high level if you’re asked if you’re on the search. Oversharing isn’t caring, and absolutely no one likes threats or ultimatums—especially not in a right-to-work state.

We can help.

Whether you’re casually exploring the current job market and compensation landscape, or you’re ready to make a bold career move, Staffing Strong is here to help. Our talent specialists are ready to support you in pinning down the opportunities and employers that are the right fit for your professional values and goals. Submit your resume and connect with us.

Meet the Author

Evelyn Vega is the Founder and President at Staffing Strong and the Past President of the Phoenix American Marketing Association. Since 1999, she’s made her career about supporting her clients in building meaningful careers and partnering with businesses in finding quality hires. In her free time, Evelyn sits on various advisory boards and enjoys practicing on her drum set!

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