Dos & Don'ts: Stealth Job Search

A Salary.com report released this month found that nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of the more than 7,000 workers surveyed are likely to intensify their job search in the next three months. As they embark on this mission, most employed job seekers want to protect their current paycheck while seeking a new opportunity. To avoid getting caught by their current employers, which would subject them to possible termination, discretion is key. There's some proper etiquette to follow and a few traps to avoid when looking to jump ship.

Stealth Job Search Dos:

Promote your expertise, not your availability. An engineer who's looking for a new boss can promote her expertise without overtly advertising her availability. She can speak at industry events or serve on panels. She can post comments on reputable industry blogs to showcase her knowledge. She can write articles for industry publications or Web sites. All of this can benefit her employer too, so she doesn't have to hide her actions. By being active and raising her profile, which applies to many industries, it's almost certain that she'll be approached with employment inquiries.

Use privacy settings on job boards. This prevents your current employer from finding your resume online. (Many employers -- especially large ones -- specifically look for resumes of their employees to see who's posting in the big resume banks.) New sites, such as JobFox.com, allow employed job seekers to use an alias to protect their identities among top employers searching for new talent.

Ask for confidentiality. When applying for a job or going on an interview, be clear about the need for discretion. Don't be shy about saying, "Since my current employer does not know that I'm pursuing a more challenging opportunity, please respect the confidential nature of this application [or this interview]."

Schedule after-hours interviews. Instead of saying, "Sure, I can come in anytime because my boss will never know if I'm gone," make it known that you have respect for your current job so you can't just slink out at any old time to meet. Good recruiters get this, and they're accustomed to meeting early morning and early evening to accommodate this.

Make time to job search. When you're already holding down a full-time job, your time is limited. If you don't schedule job search time or make it a priority in your routine, your search will drag on for much longer than you'd like. Be deliberate in your efforts.

Stealth Job Search Don'ts:

Don't leverage clients or vendors at your employer's expense.

Don't bad mouth your current employer. You won't impress the competition by trashing the company that pays you now. The prospective boss will assume that if you do this about one boss, you'll eventually do it about the next one, too.

Don't give your current boss as a reference. Unless you and your boss are close enough that he or she knows you're looking, and has given you permission to use his or her name as a reference, skip it. Former employers are totally acceptable as references, as are vendors and clients who can speak to your work style.

Don't check out mentally. Once you decide you want a new job, it often makes even the smallest nuisance at work a big deal. Everything bugs you, and you lose interest. That's when you put yourself in jeopardy of getting fired.

Tory Johnson is the workplace contributor on "Good Morning America" and the CEO of Women for Hire. Visit her at www.womenforhire.com.

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