Bettina Seidman has counseled many job hunters in her time as a career coach in New York, but even she was surprised when one of her clients, who worked in the same building as Siedman, asked to sneak into her office’s bathroom.
“I recall clearly that she reached out to me and asked permission to use the ladies room on the floor of my office,” Seidman recalled. At the time, her client was working in payroll management but used her free time to interview for new jobs. “She felt that she couldn't wear her ’interview suits’ to work on days that she had interviews, for fear of being noticed as overdressed. So she used the bathroom to change her clothes before going to interviews.”
This may sound like an unnecessary precaution, but according to Seidman, it’s better to be safe than sorry. “You need to be sure that your job search is a completely private matter,” she said. “Be very careful who in your office knows about it.”
In a sense, hunting for a job while you are currently employed is a bit like leading a double life. For as long as you stay at your current job, you must continue to be a faithful and hardworking employee who shows no signs of discontent (or else you risk raising suspicions and possibly being fired). Yet all the while you are secretly visualizing yourself at a new company and taking steps to get there.
In fact, this may be more of an issue now than it was a few years ago. Several companies have admitted recently that they will not even consider hiring someone who is unemployed. That essentially means American workers have no choice but to look for jobs while working a 9-5. To make matters more complicated, it’s common knowledge that many Americans have settled for less than perfect jobs because of the bad economy, which makes many bosses nervous that their employees will up and leave.
“This isn’t an economy where you can let your boss know you are thinking about leaving,” said Rob McGovern, the founder of CareerBuilder and current CEO of JobFox. “More than once I’ve seen the person cut in a subsequent layoff, with the manager saying ‘he or she was leaving anyway’.”
So how can you successfully hunt for a new job without accidentally sacrificing your current position?