NEW YORK (MainStreet) — The sad stories pour in where employees with Wanderlust in their hearts get abruptly pink slipped because they were caught hunting for a new job. Just looking may now be a firing offense in a tight job marketplace.
Good jobs definitely are not plentiful. But know this: done right, your current employer is unlikely to suss out your disloyalty as you seek new opportunities. That is because the 2015 job hunting guide is full of advice on how to search in stealth mode. Career development experts are quick to offer up stealth search advice.
Start by practicing good tradecraft, which in this case means secrecy. Mike Bowman, author of How to Scare the Hell Out of Unemployment, provided one no-no: “Don't print your resume out at work or leave it on your screen. I can't tell you how many times I have discovered someone's intent to leave, because they printed out their resume on a work printer and forgot it was there.”
In a like vein, use your own devices - tablets, phone - for the job hunt. It’s neater, and also you just don’t know how much some employers eavesdrop on activity on their devices.
While you are focused on secrecy, tell no one at your current job that you are hunting. That’s juicy gossip, hard not to spread. Stay mum, and there’s no worry.
Next step: be careful with what you wear. Jill Jacinto, Millennial career expert for AOL Jobs, stressed the need for mindfulness about your attire.
“If you usually come into the office looking like you crawled out of bed and then suddenly show up in a pressed shirt and a blazer, people will notice that something is up," she said. "Make it a habit from day one of your search to always dress as if you have a job interview. You'll throw people off and even look start looking the part in your current job.”
Career coach Cheryl Palmer offered one last tactic to avoid.
“Don’t send resumes to blind ads," she said. "A woman told me that her co-worker responded to a blind ad and then was confronted a short while later by someone in the company from human resources. HR asked her if she was looking for another job. The woman lied and said no. The HR professional responded, ‘I got your resume.’ It turned out that the job that this woman had applied for was at her own company.”
Besides, In 2015 you don’t get jobs by sending out lots of resumes - email has made it too easy, and free, for job hunters to flood the market with resumes.
What to do actively, to get out the word, discreetly? Start by checking the security setting of all your social media outlets. You may leave them wide open or you may tighten them; make the choice that works for your comfort level. Just make sure you understand who can see which of your postings, and modulate your online activity accordingly.
“If you're updating your LinkedIn profile, do not broadcast this fact to your LinkedIn followers some of whom, presumably, are current colleagues of yours,” urged Joseph Terach, CEO of Resume Deli, a job search strategy firm. He is right. A flurry of LinkedIn activities -- profile polishing, endorsing others, soliciting recommendations -- is a sure giveaway that the person is job hunting. Do all that, but do it undercover.
“LinkedIn settings permit you to hide the fact that you've made updates to your profile,” Terach said. Invoke that right, so current contacts - your manager for instance - aren’t alerted that you are on the move.
Actively job hunt 2015 style.
“Use conferences and industry events to network and to establish relationships,” said Roy Cohen, career coach and author, The Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide (FT Press, 2010). “Even better, volunteer to speak on industry panels to enhance your visibility. When you are seen and heard, you are more likely to be viewed as an insider and as an expert.”
Being invited to speak at national convention center type events is not likely for those who aren’t already well-known, but when events pull in 100 or fewer, you bet they scramble for talkers. Volunteer and you may get tapped; suddenly, a room full of peers knows your name.
Also, many trade publications are desperate for free editorial content. Write up an op-ed on a hot industry topic, and it just may be posted with your byline.
And maintain a busy after-work coffee and/or cocktail schedule. Keep talking with peers, keep inquiring about openings. That’s how they come to you.
When - finally - you are on a formal interview, be sure to underline your need for secrecy.
“Make your stealth search clear in the interview process,” said Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of FlexJobs, a site focused on telecommuting gigs. That is: keep your guard up, and be sure those you involve in the hunt know your need for secrecy.
Fell elaborated: “Usually, after a job interview, a potential employer will want to contact your references and current place of employment to verify what you've told them. Be sure to let them know that your current manager or company doesn't know about your search for a new role.” Of course once a firm offer is in the works - and you intend to accept - you will provide current references to be checked. Until then, however, satisfy the prospective new employer with references from past jobs - and make sure they all know to respect your secrecy.
Bottom-line: Get your name and face out there, that’s the fast track to a new job in 2015. Won’t your employer smell a rat? If challenged, say you are spreading awareness of your present employer while deepening your industry knowledge and contacts. Your boss should applaud that initiative - and meantime you are building your case for winning a new job.
—Written by Robert McGarvey for MainStreet