The Best Way to Job Search When You Are Employed

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Job searching and interviewing for a new position when you are currently employed can be tricky, especially if you don't (and you shouldn't) want your employer to know that you are considering quitting.

It's important to be careful how you go about your job search and how you take time off for interviews, so your employer doesn't discover that you are job searching until you are ready for them to know.

You don't want to be caught job searching by your boss if you can help it.

The reason it's important to be careful is that employees have been fired for even saying they hate their job or their company, much less that they are thinking of quitting. For example, don't put a job title on Facebook, or any other social media site, that says "Slave at UPS." The person who listed it was a friend of a friend who didn't have his privacy settings adjusted as he should have.​

Tips for Job Searching When You Have a Job

Having information like that available for anyone to see isn't going to impress your old employer - or your potential new employer who may also see it.

Be discreet, very discreet, when you're employed and job hunting.

Plan Your Job Search

Take the time to plan your job search, both from having everything you need lined up before you start - resume, a cover letter outline you can customize for each job you apply for, a solid LinkedIn profile, and professional references (non-work references) who can attest to your ability to do a new job.

Take the time to plan to job search as confidentially and strategically as possible.

Streamline Your Job Search

There are some great job search tools that will enable you to keep your job search organized and managed. Use these job search engines and set up email alerts so you are notified when new jobs are posted. Review these ten easy steps to organize your job search to get started.

Don't Job Search on Work Computers

Don't use your work computer for writing your resume, applying for jobs, or communicating with employers. Use a Gmail or other personal email address for all your non-work-related communications.

Use Your Personal Email Address

Don't use your work email address for job hunting. Use your personal account or set up a free web-based email account specifically for job searching.

Don't Use Your Office Phone Number

Don't put your office phone number on your resume and job applications. Use your cell phone or personal landline number.

Keep Your Job Search to Yourself

Don't advertise on social media or tell your co-workers that you are looking for another job or don't like the one you have. Even if you tell one person, that's one person too many. The more people who know, the better the chance that your current company will find out you are job searching.

Very Carefully Tap Your Connections

Do talk privately, however, to the professional connections you know are trustworthy. Ask them if they can send any leads they come across your way, reminding them to keep your confidences and not to disclose the fact that you're job seeking. Also, tap those connections to see if they will provide a reference for you.

Use Non-Work References

Don't use your supervisor or any other references from the job you have now. If the hiring managers ask permission to talk to your manager (and they probably will), you can tell them you would need to have a preliminary job offer first, but that the final offer could be contingent upon their talking to your work references.

Don't Interview From Work

Many employers use phone interviews for first-round screening. Don't schedule a phone interview for when you are at work unless you have a private office. Try to schedule on your lunch hour or early or late in the day, and do it on your own time and from your own phone.

Schedule Your Interviews Carefully

On a related note, schedule your interviews carefully so that you won't be missed at work. Again, early or late in the day are easier to explain to your current employer. Another alternative would be to take personal or vacation time. If you have multiple interviews to schedule, you may be able to do them on the same day.

Bring a Change of Clothes

Don't walk into the office wearing a suit if your normal office attire is business casual or casual. Bring a change of clothes and change elsewhere before you head out to the interview and back to work.

When to Give Notice

Don't give notice to your current employer until you have a firm job offer and you have accepted it. I'd wait, as well, until your references have been checked and you have a start date scheduled. It does happen, on occasion, that an employer withdraws a job offer. You don't want that to happen and end up with no job at all.

Quitting Your Job

If you're careful, you can leave your old job and move to a new one without alienating your managers and colleagues. Giving adequate notice and offering to help with the transition that will arise from your departure work well for avoiding hard feelings when you quit. Here's how to resign gracefully from your job.

The Bottom Line

KEEP YOUR JOB SEARCH SECRET: Don’t give your current employer reason to fire you by telling them that you intend to find a new job with a different organization. Conduct your search, if possible, outside the office, using your personal phone number and a non-work-related email account.

BE DISCREET ONLINE: Be careful what you share on social media about your desire to find a new job. Should this information get back to your supervisor or co-workers, questions will be asked about your intentions and you may find that your current job is suddenly in jeopardy.

WAIT TO GIVE NOTICE: Don’t give notice to your current employer until you have a firm job offer in hand, with a scheduled starting date for your new position. If possible, negotiate with your new employer so that you can provide your current supervisor with the standard two weeks’ notice.