Part 2 - The Jobseekers Guide to a Confidential Job Search
Don’t attend job fairs. One jobseeker reviewed the roster of participating employers at a job fair and didn’t see his company listed. However, as he made the rounds of the booths, his current boss spotted him, leading to an awkward conversation and his departure from the company sooner than he had originally planned. Some job fairs collect résumés and distribute them to all participating companies. A few companies enter these into a database to search for their company name to identify current employees looking for new jobs.
Don’t respond to “blind ads.” On a related note, do not submit your résumé for positions where the company name isn’t listed. More than one jobseeker has applied for “the perfect job” only to find it was their job being advertised!
Don’t conduct your job search at work or on company time. This includes not making calls from your work phone or on your company cell phone, or listing either of these numbers on your résumé. You may still receive incoming calls from recruiters and prospective employers on your work landline or cell phone, but you don’t want a record of you initiating these contacts using company resources. Only make calls at work when you’re on break or at lunch — again, from your personal cell phone. (If you take an early or late lunch, you’re more likely to catch the hiring manager or recruiter at his or her desk.) And make sure you make the call from somewhere you won’t be overheard.
Don’t use your company computer for your job search. First, your search history is trackable, and all your inbound and outbound emails are probably logged as well. Don’t store your résumé on your work computer, and do not use company printers or copiers to make copies of your résumé. It might be overkill, but also don’t connect to your company’s Wi-Fi — even when you’re conducting job search activities on your own time, using your own devices.
Don’t use your company email address on any of your job search correspondence. Again, not only is it probably being monitored, but also it looks bad to a prospective employer that you are using company resources to support your job search.
Don’t post your résumé online. Not only is it likely to be found by someone at your current company, but also résumés posted publicly stay out there “forever.” Even removing contact information might not help you from being identified. When possible, apply only for positions you’re interested in, and apply directly on the company website, if possible, instead of through a job board.
Don’t schedule interviews during work hours. Schedule your interviews on your day off, before work, during lunch, or after work. You may have to be creative about when — and how — you interview.
Don’t post about your job search on social media. Also, don’t post about being unhappy in your current job on social media — no matter how locked down you think your privacy settings are. Anyone can take a screen shot of your post and share it with anyone else.
Don’t suddenly start attending lots of networking events if you haven’t regularly attended them before. However, if you do want to attend professional association or networking events, volunteer to help at the registration desk. You’ll get a chance to meet everyone who attends, without appearing that you’re trying to meet everyone.
Don’t lie if you are asked if you’re looking for a job. That’s especially important if that question comes from your current boss. If you’re asked, be honest — but you should also re-double your job search efforts. In the event of a layoff, you’ll likely be the first to be let go, “since you were planning on leaving anyway.”
Here Are Some “Dos” for a Confidential Job Search
Do be careful who you tell. If you tell anyone you’re looking for a new job, let them know you’re looking for a job in confidence. Be especially careful about telling co-workers, as a colleague might accidentally let it slip that you’re searching for a new job — or they may see you as disloyal. If you do tell a co-worker, make it clear you don’t expect them to cover for you — you don’t want them to lose their job because of you!
Do let any recruiters you’re working with know you’re conducting a confidential job search. Ask to be informed before you are submitted as a candidate to a company. You might know your boss is friends with that company’s hiring manager — but the recruiter might not. Better safe than sorry.
Do tell your prospective employer you are conducting your job search in confidence. Also, don’t list current co-workers or supervisors as references.
Do set up a free (“generic”) Gmail or Yahoo email account. Make sure you don’t include your name or any other personally identifying information — and also make sure it’s not a “cutesy” email address either.
Do create a “confidential” version of your résumé. Put “Confidential Candidate” as a title at the top. Remove your name and contact information — except for your generic email address and personal cell phone number. (Don’t put your home phone number on a confidential résumé — a reverse phone number lookup may reveal your identity.) Don’t include your current employer’s actual company name — instead, provide a generic description of what the company does. Remove the dates from your education section — having your degree, school, and year makes you easier to identify. Don’t include your name in the file name when saving your résumé. And make sure you check the “Properties” box in Microsoft Word under the File menu to make sure your name and contact information doesn’t appear there.
Do watch what you wear. If you typically work in a “business casual” environment, if you show up in a suit (because you have an interview over lunch), that will likely arouse suspicion. Plan enough time to change before your interview — preferably not at your current workplace or the company you want to work for. Also be careful about making dramatic changes in your appearance (hairstyles, clothes, etc.).
Do keep up your efforts at work while you conduct your job search. In fact, go above and beyond with what you’re doing in your current job. Companies want employees who are committed to their job, not their job search.
When conducting a confidential job search, don’t look for a new job, but instead, seek to be found. This means increasing your visibility — look for opportunities to write, speak, volunteer, and advise. Make sure you have a robust LinkedIn profile. Connect with the right people, and opportunities will find you.