Five tips for keeping your job search secret

I remember a time when I was looking for a new job. I knew what I had to do – find job roles that looked interesting, research the company and send in my application(s). The problem was, I was already employed. So I wanted to keep my job search secret. This is a really common situation so here are my five tips for keeping your job search a secret. 


Look for work on your own time

Do you know where most people look for a new job? In the office. It’s understandable because when you’re not happy at work you are usually demotivated. The problem is that this is a risky strategy. Anyone might see what you’re up to and blow your secret. Not to mention that you are using the company’s equipment and wifi. 


Job searching doesn’t need to take a long time – about an hour a week. You don’t need to be looking every day, otherwise, you see the same old jobs pop up. Most job adverts stay up for 2-3 weeks so you will see them as long as your job searching strategy is effective. Set aside some time in your diary – perhaps over lunch or on your commute. 


If you have an interview then make sure you take time off as holiday or do it outside working hours. If you have to start telling lies about where you are then it’s much harder to remember what you said and to whom! 


This is a little easier if you’re working from home during the covid pandemic as you can be more discreet but I would still encourage you to consider when you are looking and the equipment you use. 


Aim to maintain 100% effort for your current employer. Losing focus because you know you’ll be leaving can be detrimental to your job search. It can alert your supervisors that you are planning to quit, and it might jeopardize your chance of getting a good reference after you move on.


Use your discretion on social media

Whether it’s in person or on social media, be careful who you tell. I think this is even more crucial on social media. Remember that even if your settings are very private, social media is not completely impenetrable. The fewer people you tell, the more you can keep your job search secret. I had a client tell me about how someone they were friends with on social media used to report any job search comments or worker rants back to the boss! 


I am a huge advocate for networking online but do it carefully if you are keeping your job search secret. Reach out to your personal contacts—people you know and trust—to let them know you’re looking for a new job, and stress the importance of discretion. Let them know your target jobs and companies to see if they have any contacts they are willing to share with you.


Consider turning off activity announcements when adding connections or editing your profile from your settings page. A sudden profile makeover if you don’t regularly update your page might make your manager suspicious.


Keeping your CV confidential

When putting together a CV make sure you use a personal email address, I would recommend setting one up specifically for the task – think carefully about the handle too! Remember to check any email accounts regularly. Use a personal phone number too and answer the phone to numbers you don’t know because employers won’t wait around for you. 


Consider where you are posting your CV and how it can be found. Some job boards allow you to upload and keep your CV confidential. They do this by making sure your contact details and any references are not displayed. 


You can also list a generic company name and job title, rather than a specific one as well as removing company contact information. Remember that the new company isn’t interested about who you work for – they are interested in your and your skills so make yourself the star of your CV. 


Be honest with interviewers if you’re keeping your job search confidential. Most employers will understand. Try to broach the topic tactfully. For example, you might say, “Here are some references you can reach out to. I am happy to put you in touch with my current supervisor, too, once I put in my notice of leave. However, I am waiting to give notice until I am confident of another offer coming in.”


Carefully raise your visibility

It’s really important to maintain a strong work ethic. One of the things my clients regret when they look back is that they lost motivation and stopped working hard. Make sure you continue representing your employer – and yourself on social media by staying active and building proof of your expertise. This is why using social media is a long term strategy, not just for when you are looking for a new role. 


If you are happy working in your current organisation but are unhappy in your role then this is a good strategy when looking for internal positions. 


For roles outside your company use LinkedIn, but exercise caution. Build your profile slowly, keeping notifications turned off for your contacts. Avoid the #OpenToWork option if you are keeping your job search secret. 


It’s OK to be open about where you work and describe your job (and more importantly your role, achievements etc) that reflect well on both you and your employer without disclosing any confidential information. 


Ideally, ask for some recommendations before you start job searching. Alternatively give some recommendations to others and they may return the favour – but do this with caution as suddenly adding loads of recommendations to your profile can be a red flag for job searching. 


Use the internet to your advantage

Enter your name into your internet browser. What comes up? Is it what you want people to see? Your online reputation is important as it might be the only thing a future employer can see. LinkedIn profiles, again, can play an important role here and are often the first thing that pops up. Keep your profile up to date, use keywords related to your skills and future career. 


You can also use the internet to search for companies you would like to work for. You can use Google alerts to email you about news related to them or job adverts on their site. This means you can avoid uploading your CV onto jobs boards and apply directly. 


Recruiters are also a good option if you want to keep your job search secret. They can quietly tap their deep networks of business contacts on your behalf to uncover leads and vacancies that haven’t been announced. And they can notify you right away when an open position fits your career goals and salary requirements.


Bonus tip: keeping your job search a secret can feel hard at times, especially if you’re not sure what you want to do next. If you want to talk to me then rest assured that all my sessions are confidential and non-judgemental. Get in touch to see how I can help you.

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