Discreet job seeking: How to keep your job search private
Ireland is certainly not the easiest country in which to keep a job hunt under wraps. However by following the below tips from recruitment expert Barry Whelan, you can enjoy peace of mind that your job search will not have a detrimental impact on your current position
21 April 2016
When you’re looking for a job while in a job, the last thing you may want to happen is for your employer to find out you’re on the move. Although most of us would like to let our employer know and be honest, the potential fallout doesn’t make this a realistic option in most cases. This makes looking for a job when in a job more of a discreet art rather than a loud trumpet blast.
Coupled with this, Ireland is a small place where everybody knows everybody and this makes being discreet that bit more challenging. In my many years in recruitment I have had many close calls where a candidate may be going for an interview in a public place only to see someone they know, making them hastily disappear into the shadows. However it is easier to look for a job while in a job, so most people job search from their current position.
When you’re gainfully employed, keep any job search activity confidential. If you decide to stay, you don’t want your employer to second-guess your commitment. Even if you think you’re probably leaving, you want to take your time to explore and leave on your own timetable.
When looking for a job, you’re most likely going to have job interviews to attend, calls to return, emails to reply to and all of this will be during the business day.
Here are some ways to make your search confidential.
Don’t use company equipment
Firstly this can be seen as an offence and depending on company policy, misusing company equipment can be an offence warranting discipline.
Use your own mobile for calls and always use a personal email address. If you want to apply for roles or search for jobs during your lunch break, bring your personal laptop with you. Your work email may be monitored for breach of policy and routinely scanned. Your best bet is to not do anything on company equipment that you don’t want your company to see.
Be discreet on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is an obvious job seeking resource and you probably have a profile for professional use, but suddenly linking into the world and its mother or following a bunch of recruitment companies all at once, might have your boss becoming suspicious. Check your settings. Depending on these your connections can see whenever you have new activity, like a new connection. If you’re connected to your boss or colleagues in your company, they may notice you connecting to the relevant personnel in all of your competitors. Don’t talk about your job seeking escapades on Facebook. Even if you just use it for personal use, you may have work friends on there or be connected through connections.
Save up your time off
Time off requests to leave the office early, come in late or take a half day or indeed a full day off arouse a flag of suspicion when they come like buses – all at once. Try to arrange interviews outside hours or if requesting a day off for an interview, try to do this on a Friday or Monday where at least it does look like a long weekend. As your job search activity picks up, it will become increasingly more disruptive to your work. Expect this, and plan for it. Stockpile holiday days so you can take the time off.
Dress for an interview everyday
If your office attire is smart casual or your company has a policy of casual Fridays, you will stick out like a sore thumb when arriving in work suited and booted for an interview. You can bring a suit or change of clothes in the back of your car and do a Clarke Kent on the way to an interview but this may not always be feasible. Up your game attire wise. If your office is smart casual wear a suit to work with open collar or for females move from fashionably casual to fashionably professional – the addition of a tie or some professional footwear may be all you need to bring your attire up to interview grade without suspicion or the need for multiple wardrobes. You can gradually start dressing more professionally all the time, thereby calling less attention to yourself when you do dress up for your interviews.
Manage your recruiters
I start in the office at 7am each morning so I can meet and speak with candidates before work. We don’t close at lunch so that we can make and take calls from candidates who cannot speak during office hours and I work late every Wednesday for the same reason. You might be doing all you can to keep your job search confidential but you also have to ensure that everyone who is working with you also keeps this confidence. This means that you instruct recruiters to only contact you on your mobile phone or personal email and you should let them know that your search is confidential and that you can only talk at certain times or indeed by text or just email. Make sure you insist that they don’t forward your information to any clients without your consent – you don’t want them to pitch you to their client who also happens to work closely with your current company.
Manage potential contacts
In addition to recruiters, be careful what you say to suppliers, consultants, or clients of your company. You may have a genuine relationship with them outside of work but if you ask them for professional leads that will take you out of your company, it might be construed as competing with your company or not acting in the company’s best interest. This may run foul of company policy. Or the supplier, consultant or client may be loose-lipped and mention that you’re looking to your boss.
Ireland is a small place and everyone knows everyone, however HR professionals and professional recruiters guarantee discretion and confidentiality. Keep your cards close to your chest, box clever and your job search will remain private and confidential.
By Barry Whelan, managing director of Excel Recruitment. www.excelrecruitment.com.