Are you currently employed but about to launch a passive or active job search? Are you concerned about keeping your search confidential so you don’t place your current role in jeopardy?
You should be. It is, unfortunately, not uncommon for job seekers to experience negative consequences at work once their job search intentions become known. From outright firing to loss of trust, some job seekers have been damaged by their attempts to land a new role while still engaged in their current one.
To prevent this from happening to you, consider implementing as many of these confidentiality strategies as you can:
- Turn off the notifications for your LinkedIn profile. This will prevent LinkedIn from advising your network every time you alter your profile. Note, though, that some notifications (such as Groups that you join) may still be broadcast. It’s best if you check your profile after every such action to manually delete it from appearing. Go to Privacy & Settings > Privacy Controls, and while you’re there turn off your news mention broadcasts and your activity broadcasts and set your activity feed and “who can see your connections” to “Only you.”
- Remove LinkedIn connections in or close to your current company. If you are already connected on LinkedIn to folks who currently work for your company, used to do so, or know those who do/did, you should disconnect from them at once. While this won’t prevent your colleagues from seeing your profile, it will make it less easy for them to do so.
- Do not post your resume on job boards. Be aware that your employer can search job board databases if they have a recruiting account. This feature allows them to check on the resumes of current employees. If you remove your posted resumes there won’t be anything for them to find if they go looking.
- Stop doing LinkedIn status updates. Posting status updates on LinkedIn can be a great tool to promote your career brand. But if you’re in or expecting to launch a job search soon, either discontinue the practice for a while or make sure your update content does not advertise your search. Instead, use your update to share industry-relevant news or articles or share comments on industry topics.
- Do not use your work email in your resume or LinkedIn profile.This one should be obvious, but I see many people using their work email in instances when they should be using a personal email. And please make sure the email you use is professional in content and tone.
- Choose strategically who to network and share job search news with. In particular be very careful about who you talk to about your search at work.
- Ensure LinkedIn group discussion posts are job search neutral. I suggest to my executive clients that they seriously consider posting their industry-related views and opinions in relevant LinkedIn Groups. It is wise, however, to avoid commenting on job search questions or posting job search advice for others while you are in an undercover executive search.
- Find out which recruiter(s) your current company uses and avoid submitting for jobs posted by that firm; also avoid submitting your resume to that firm. This is a challenge because you have to be careful who you ask. But careful networking should enable you to surface the recruiter’s name or the firm’s name, which you can then avoid like the plague.
- Pledge your closest networking contacts to secrecy – be explicit about the fact that you are job searching on the QT. Networking is a powerful job search strategy and one that almost no one should avoid, but in an incognito search it’s important that you explain your secrecy with contacts who know others in your firm.
- Set up phone, voice mail, and email for exclusive use in your search; do not share these with colleagues. Most job seekers use a one-size-fits-all email for their search as well as all of their personal communications (sound familiar Hillary?). That’s unwise. You’re better off to select a Gmail account for your search and use it exclusively for all job search communications, now and for the balance of your career.
- Don’t job search with employer-owned technology. Like most career coaches and resume writers, I have had clients who didn’t heed this advice and paid the price for it by being fired. Never assume your employer isn’t monitoring your usage of work email, phone, and computer resources. If you wish to job search on your lunch hour, leave the building and use your personal cell phone to make calls.
- Schedule interviews at night if possible or arrange personal leave from work. It’s tricky to use sick leave or work time for interviews, though many do. I suggest using vacation or personal leave instead.
- If your interview attire is different than your daily work attire, start dressing “up” periodically to set a new pattern. If you suddenly start wearing interview attire to work on days when you have job search meetings people are sure to comment. Do that a few times and your search will headline water cooler conversations.
- Consider your references carefully. If new company insists on references from your current boss, pledge to get one at the point an offer is made. It’s understandable that prospective employers want references from your boss, but you need to carefully control when they do so. Most will accept your pledge to provider a relevant reference once they have decided to offer you a job.
- Use alias &/or alternative email for any public forum postings. If you frequently post on public forums, make sure your post is job search neutral or stop making such posts altogether. I’ve seen posts on job search blogs by job seekers complaining about their companies or search experience while using their name and email.
- Give recruiters you work with a list of companies to avoid submitting your resume to. Recruiters understand the challenges you face in executing a private search so it’s safe to enlist them in securing your privacy.
These 16 strategies will help you to preserve your job search privacy and confidentiality if you take the time to implement them. What additional strategies do you leverage to keep your candidacy incognito?