While many things in this electronic world we live in are a lot easier, keeping your job search a secret isn’t one of them.
My wife reminded me recently of the hours I used to spend at my typewriter during the 1980’s responding to job ads. Yes, there was a time after candles were replaced with light bulbs, but before the typewriter was replaced by the computer. And, I guess I should also mention that the Internet hadn’t been invented yet. (Al Gore hadn’t completed his work.)
If you thought looking for a job was difficult, looking for one in secret is even harder. Some organizations frown severely on individuals looking for another job. Not that they go out of their way to make you happy, but they sure don’t want you to leave.
If you really must keep your activities quiet, I can offer several suggestions that will at least reduce the likelihood of your getting caught.
The first one is don’t post your resume on the Internet. Sure, there are lots of posting boards out there that allow you to publish your resume in a manner that somewhat protects your identity, but think about “key word searches” and how powerful they are. Let’s assume your employer is trolling the net and types in a key word search that is somehow unique to your industry and retrieves your resume. Even without your name on it, won’t they be able to figure out that it’s you? If you posted a resume that left off the companies where you have worked and the titles you have held, how useful would it be to your other objective? I think you see where I am going. I just wouldn’t do it.
I would also suggest that you should only submit your resume when you either know the name of the company or that the job is being handled by a search firm. If you have concerns about where your resume might be sent, be assured that no search firm would stay in business very long if they sent resumes to your current employer. They are sort of honor bound not to do so. This being the case, I would strongly suggest that you include your current employer’s name. I have seen several resumes lately where this has been left off and it leaves you looking plain silly. If you don’t want your resume sent to certain companies, say so in your cover note.
A less successful approach is to forbid the search firm to forward your resume to any client without your permission. While this is something easily handled and accepted by most retained search firms, most contingency firms will just discard your resume rather than complete this additional step. Some will, but most will deem it too much trouble. It is your call, but there are risks you have to take in this world if you want to be considered.
Scheduling appointments when currently employed is particularly difficult, especially in today’s world of business casual. I used to wear a suit every day. Even so, one might get teased that you were wearing an interviewing suit. Now, short of changing in a public bathroom, I don’t know what you can do except take the day off. If they really like your background, clients are generally willing to schedule appointments at the beginning of the day or the end of the day. Don’t be bashful. Ask.
I would also suggest you be prepared for the inevitable. Keeping a secret is just plain difficult and in today’s world, almost impossible.
If any members have additional suggestions they would like to share, please send them to Leads@TheFENG.org and Leslie will put them in our Notes from Members” section for others to read and learn.