JOB SEARCH / MAY. 30, 2014
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How to Keep a Job Search Confidential While Employed

Perhaps you might have heard the story of Karly Sadof, the accomplished photo editor of the Associated Press who accidentally included part of her cover letter applying for a job with Buzzfeed as a caption sent to all AP’s clients. This ‘fatal’ gaffe had two implications on her professional reputation. First, she posted an incorrect caption for a photo (a major mistake for an editor, who is supposed to pay attention to details) and second, she let everyone know that she was looking for a new job (not a wise move for anyone hoping to keep a respectable job).

This incident speaks of itself! Refrain from looking for a job while at work because nothing at work is private! It could put your current position as well as future opportunities in jeopardy.

Pay special attention to these tips to make your job search as confidential as possible…

Remember: ‘Big Brother’ Might be Watching You…  

Your boss can legitimately spy on you to monitor what you are doing at work or how you use company equipment. The truth is, the larger your company is, the more likely it will be tracking your daily activities using monitoring software. That means if you're spending time surfing job boards, reading job search advice while at work or using your work-issued computer or emailing cover letters to potential employers, your employer may know about it and could possibly dismiss you. On the other hand, using your work computer for personal businesses can be against the company’s policies, so consider bringing your own laptop after making sure that this is permitted.

Mind Your Digital Footprint

Social media such as LinkedIn can help you land a job, but it is paramount to keep your search confidential. The first step to take is to keep an eye on LinkedIn privacy settings. Turn off your activity broadcasts if you are running a stealthy job search that your current boss should not be aware of. Uncheck the box that allows LinkedIn to let people know when you've made changes to your profile. You can also adjust the Communications tab settings to determine what you want to share with others or select who can see your connections. Be vigilant and ensure that your online trails will not lead your boss to discover your job hunt.

Be Furtive when you Research Profiles

If you're visiting many profiles on LinkedIn, you may not want to let people know. If you opt for undercover research, change the setting in LinkedIn labeled "Select what others see when you've viewed their profile". You may want to temporarily change it to "Anonymous" during your in-depth online investigations.

Join Groups Privately

When you join various LinkedIn groups, you have the option to not publicise your membership on your profile. Go to your “Groups” on the bottom of your profile and choose which ones you want to be visible or hidden. Bear in mind that public groups are not ideal places to post any negative remarks about your current employer or information about your job search. Even if your membership in a group is hidden, someone could still view your updates in that group.

Don’t use any of your Current Co-workers or Supervisors as References

If one of them is contacted while you’re looking for a new job and they don’t know that you are looking for a new job, you’ll have to give explanations. So prepare the ground in advance and make sure you warn them in time about your intentions to make a new career step.

Schedule Interviews during Non-work Hours

When job searching or even when called for an interview and still employed, it is vital to maintain your loyalty towards your current employer. Don’t compel your boss to start questioning your productivity level due to your absence at obvious work hours. Try to arrange job interviews or informational interviews at times which do not coincide with work hours (e.g. during lunch break, after work or even unused vacation days).

All in all, every person who job hunts while in employment must make discreet movements so as to avoid potential mistakes that can land him in hot water. Ensuring your job search is confidential can be a challenge, but being attentive and watchful to your online trails as well as keeping your plans to yourself until you are ready to make a big announcement is key for success.

Have you ever experienced a situation when you had to keep your job search confidential? What strategies did you employ to keep your activity undercover? Please have your say in the comment section below. 

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