Top Tips For Keeping Job Hunting Quiet (and when to go public)

Job interviews rarely run on Saturdays.

Chances are you’re going to have to wangle time off work to get to interviews and assessment centres. That gives you three options:

  1. Use up your precious holiday entitlement.
    With most of us getting less than 25 days a year, this can quickly lead to cancelling holidays with family and friends.
  2. Come clean with your boss and negotiate time off.
    This carries risks, unless you’re 100% sure you want to leave – soon.
  3. Fib.
    Bad idea.
    We once interviewed a woman who insisted on keeping her mobile switched on and on the desk, during a final round interview. She made it clear she would answer it, if it rang, because her boss thought she was visiting a client. This contributed to her not being offered the job, because she had been so openly proud of deceiving her employer, displaying a serious lack of integrity.
Job-hunting on the quiet can be tricky. Basically, you need to decide whether or not to tell your manager. Most people choose not to, until they really have to. But if you’re in a position where you know there’s no chance of you staying, say, if your partner is relocating, then honesty might be the best policy.

How your boss will spot you’re job-hunting:

    • It is perfectly legal for your emails to be monitored by your employer


    • Web surfing may be monitored – job search engines are often red flags for the IT department


    • If you’re complaining a lot about your work, your boss may assume you’ll leave


    • If you rant to your colleagues – you never know who might “drop it into conversation” with your boss
    • Beware in the canteen – it’s amazing how many ears the HR team can have
    • Taking lots of random days and half days off is highly suspicious. There are only so many sofa deliveries you can pretend you’ve got to wait in for.

Top Tips For Keeping Job Hunting Quiet (and when to go public)

Why’s it an issue?

Would you want someone working for you who’s planning to leave? Would you still trust them?

It’s likely your boss will assume you’re no longer 100% committed. They might wonder whether you can be trusted with company secrets / future strategies and be scared that you’ll go to work for a competitor.

This could mean you start to get cut out of the loop and find it harder to do your job. You could rule yourself out of the race for any promotions that might have made you want to stay and might even put discretionary bonuses at risk.

Yet many employers, when recruiting, see job-hunting “on the sly” as a sign of lack of integrity.

If you don’t come clean, you could miss out on the advantage of your boss knowing:

Your company might really want you to stay and make the changes you’re looking for in your role, so you don’t have to leave


Tips For Keeping Your Job-Hunting Quiet

  1. Use your personal email account, not your work one. They’re free with people like Yahoo and MSN, so you’ve got no excuse.
  2. Don’t surf the job search engines at work. Do it from home or find an internet café.
  3. If you have to surf from work, close your internet browser when you leave your desk, so you don’t leave the evidence on your screen for all to see.
  4. Don’t discuss your job-hunting with anyone at work unless you really know you can trust them.
  5. Don’t discuss it in the canteen. They’re noisy places where you have to raise your voice, so other ears will hear. “Who’s leaving?” is always a hot gossip topic.
  6. If a recruiter phones you at work, handle it the same way you would any other call. Don’t get cagey, blush or look flustered. No one else knows who’s on the other end of the phone. It’s perfectly ok to say you’re in a meeting and ask to call them back, if you need more privacy.
  7. If possible, don’t use your work number. Recruiters are usually discreet, but a colleague taking a message like “it’s Fred, from ABC recruitment, she’s expecting my call,” will give the game away fast.

So When Should You Come Clean?

It all depends how sure you are that you want to leave.

The general consensus is that, unless you’re 100% committed to leaving and nothing will change your mind, you should probably keep things quiet until you get past the CV and initial screening interview stage – or even until after you’ve received a job offer and contract.

If you make it to a final interview or assessment centre, check out how many other people will be there, so you’ve got an idea of your odds for getting the job.

Bear in mind that some companies only take two or three candidates to that stage, whilst others might still be interviewing 10 or more, so it’s worth checking your facts before making decisions.

At the end of the day, it’s your choice.