On the sly: How to interview without your boss finding out

By Robert Half on 14 January 2015

Looking for a job while still employed can be risky business. It could work out well if your boss finds out – he or she may decide to offer you a better deal to keep you – but that’s not usually how it happens.

Being discovered might make for an awkward situation or even an early ejection, which could be difficult to explain to your next potential employer.

It’s best to approach your job search like a hunter approaches his prey: by being careful and adequately prepared. Here are five tips for on-the-sly job hunting and how to interview without your boss knowing.

1. Cover your tracks

The internet is a marvellous tool for finding new employment, but it’s also the way most people get found out. If you’re on LinkedIn, turn off the function that notifies your contacts about your updates – your colleagues will notice that your resume just got flashier and may wonder why.

Don’t go broadcasting your intentions on Facebook or start asking for referrals. It also goes without saying to wait until you get home to commence your search – don’t use your work computer, email or phone.

2. Camouflage

You may have to become what’s called an ‘anonymous applicant’ if you’re going to post your resume online. This means taking out all names and company titles, leaving only the pertinent job descriptions to show your worth. Some employers won’t take a second glance at these, but others will note that you are still employed, which can be a tick in your favour.

3.  Pick your hunting ground

Your networks are great, but they can also be perilous for finding new jobs. You never know who knows who, so carefully weigh the risks and benefits before approaching someone. Or play it safe, avoid familiar territory and network in a new industry, location or sector. A little diversity might be good for your resume down the track.

4.  Choose your hunting partners wisely

You’re going to need a recruitment professional, but you might want to avoid the one your company uses. Either way, you need to make it clear to the recruiter that your association is strictly confidential – you don’t want them ringing your boss and telling them they’ve got a hot new applicant… that just happens to be you!

5.  Shoot from cover

If your work attire is casual, don’t show up to work in your interview suit. Instead, change at your gym or in the bathroom. Also, don’t tell your colleagues you’re even contemplating job hunting, or they may just start eyeing your chair, which could be vacant all the sooner if they let slip your plans to the wrong person.

When hunting bears, don’t bring bacon. You should do everything in your power to be invisible to your current paymaster and only selectively visible to the market. Check out our guide to getting noticed by recruiters on LinkedIn for effective tips on maximising your attractiveness to prospective employers. Happy hunting!

Need additional career advice or assistance with your job search? Contact your local Robert Half office.

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