Sooner or later, most of us will come to a point in our careers when our current job simply no longer offers the development opportunities and challenges that make us satisfied. Then, we will realise that it’s time for a change. However, once you have decided to look for a new job, you should be discreet.

Most job hunters fear that their exit plans will be discovered by their current employer, and this can easily happen without care. More than one red-faced employee has experienced how an indiscreet conversation with a colleague can all too easily be replayed back to your own boss.
The reality is that the vast majority of workers will search for their next opportunity while still employed. Remember, there’s very much a ‘right’ way to exit a job, and to ensure that no bridges are burned in the process.

The best way to hide your job search activities

The trick is to be careful and to search for jobs with the utmost discretion. Here are nine tips to help you keep your plans secret:

1. Be confidential

Your job-seeking plans are yours and yours only, so keep them confidential. Even if you trust your colleagues, it simply isn’t worth the risk. Remember, people generally aren’t intentionally malicious, but water cooler gossip is rife in organisations and something could very easily slip out in the course of conversation. Don’t make your plans known until you’ve signed your contract, got your start date, given in your notice and followed due process. Certainly, don’t allow your boss to find out you’re leaving after the rest of your team has.

Similarly, when writing your cover letter and speaking to your recruiter, be very clear that your job search is being carried out in confidence, so that they are clear and can respect your wishes.

2. Verify your contact details

Check the contact information that you have provided in your CV and make sure you use your private email address. Your work email address is completely out of place in the application process. It is also important that you choose a serious and professional name for your personal e-mail address.

3. Search for new jobs in your free time

Discreetly and quickly scanning a job advert, email round-up or recruiter message in your lunch break is one thing, but don’t search for new jobs while at work. It’s unprofessional and will certainly make it clear that you are looking elsewhere. So, it is the best way to stay completely away from job portals and career platforms while at work. Moreover, don’t use your work equipment to update your CV, register with recruitment consultancies or receive job alerts.

4. Organise interviews outside working hours

It’s good practice to organise work interviews in your own time – schedule them for after work hours or use up annual leave. This is polite to your employer and also removes stress for you as the interviewee. If you’re deceitful about your movements and use your working hours to attend an interview, you’ll be nervous and worried about being found out – and it may negatively affect your interview performance.


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5. Be careful on social networks

When using social media, keep your activity personal and don’t share any updates or stories that relate to your job search. It sounds obvious, but this is one key area where people slip up and accidentally share something with a contact they’d forgotten was part of their network. It can also be fatal if you share something and your content spreads virally over your network to a colleague. Therefore, you should adjust your privacy settings or generally refrain from such posts.

6. Continue to perform well at work

A drop in work performance is an obvious red flag that your mind is elsewhere and you are looking to leave. Work hard to maintain your work outputs and delivery, and you’ll be able to maintain your discretion until you are ready to announce your plans.

7. Update your LinkedIn and XING settings

Do you use LinkedIn or XING? Then check your settings to ensure your network isn’t automatically updated when you add something new to your profile. A flurry of updates and profile additions will naturally arouse the suspicions of your employer, as most people start honing their profile when they are planning a job search. Never say that you are open to fresh opportunities when updating your profile – use your common sense at all times. The respective settings can be made in both networks and thus help to keep your activities confidential.

8. Do not use any references

Do not mention any references in your application documents and keep your reference details back until you’ve received an offer and are ready for the next step. This prevents your employer from being contacted too early in the process, before you’ve had a chance to speak with them.

9. Don’t dress differently

If you are attending an interview after work, bring in a change of clothes. Don’t suddenly start coming into work dressed up to the nines if you don’t usually – this is a complete giveaway.

Search for jobs at your own pace

Be careful and discreet in everything you do. Of course, it’s your life and you can apply to other employers as often as you like. However, it can be uncomfortable if you have to defend yourself for your plans. With these tips, you will be able to advance your job search at your own pace – without the pressure and curious questions of your boss and colleagues.