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The LLoyd blog: hidden talent.

Job Hunting on the Job: Risky Business

By Nancy Schuman, Chief Marketing Officer, LLoyd Staffing

You’ve probably heard that the best time to get a new job is while you’re still employed. That’s true because there’s none of the “out of work” pressure or, financial strain that often emerges when you’re unemployed. But job hunting while on the job is still a tricky issue.

Employers these days rarely promise loyalty or job security, yet they still expect these same traits from their workforce. That’s why one of the best things you can do for yourself when you decide to make a move is to tell no one. Not your boss, or even your best friend at work. When your employer knows you are ready to jump ship, you put your present job at risk. If you’re not ready for unemployment, stay mum. If you can’t keep it a secret, don’t expect anyone else to either.

Fortunately, discreet job hunting is easier in this age of technology. Initial communication between candidates and prospective employers can be conducted online, but you still need to avoid common pitfalls.

Create a separate email account at one of the free sites with a user name that includes your last name and no cute or gimmicky nicknames. Use this email only for job hunting to track correspondence more easily and never use your current work email for such purposes. Protect your confidentiality by posting your resume to a job board anonymously. Lots of people do this to see what kinds of responses they get. They prefer being recruited via a passive approach to job hunting, or they go the route of using job board search agents to find them potential opportunities. All the major boards offer a no-name option. Also, don’t list your current employer by name within your resume. Many major corporations periodically perform keyword searches to see if any of their employees past or present show up. It can be tremendously awkward and you run the risk of being let go when outed. Do your best to describe your employer generically; i.e. a large financial institution, rather than by the specific name.

Use your home computer as your job search vehicle. Employers often monitor what pages you surf in the office. Let your cell phone take messages rather than answer while you’re at work. Return calls at break or at lunch when you are away from prying ears.

Prospective employers take notice if you are using your current employer’s stationery, postage, fax machine and email. It looks tacky and they may judge your work ethic inaccurately.

Your references should not include your current company, use outside sources and let your potential employer know you will provide a current job reference once you have a job offer. Stay in touch with colleagues who have left your employer. These people are great for employment leads and can often provide good peer references.

If you usually wear a casual wardrobe, throw in something a little more formal slowly so that you don’t attract attention in a suit. Or, bring interview clothes to change into once out of the office. Schedule interviews before and after work or during lunch. Better yet, take a personal day and arrange several in the same day. If you are working with an agency recruiter or search firm, tell them you want your confidentially maintained and ask to be made aware of prospective employers before referring your resume.

Upward mobility with your career almost always involves some risk, but conducting a job search with discretion, lets you move forward without falling flat on your face.

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