Job Searching While Employed

by Ryan Guina

I began searching for a new job a couple weeks ago, and it has been an interesting experience. So far I have been good about keeping my intentions a well-guarded secret – I have only discussed this with one trusted friend/co-worker.

Hopefully, things will remain quiet; I have no desire for management to know I am actively seeking new employment! That could lead to awkward meetings or prevent me from being selected for a better internal position, should one become available.

Here are a few of the tips I have learned regarding job hunting while employed:

Exhaust internal opportunities first

Job Searching While Employed

The best time to find a job is when you have a job.

A new role within your company can give you a fresh perspective and rekindle your energy and appreciation for your career. Sometimes, however, there just isn’t anything available, or you just need to get away from your company for other reasons.

I have clearly communicated my professional goals with my management team and exhausted all opportunities within my current role. I have requested more work, an internal transfer, and other professional changes. There just isn’t anything available within my company right now. This has been going on for several months now, and a lack of opportunity and professional stagnation are two of the top signs it’s time for a new job.

Don’t tell management you are job searching

Some people advocate 100% openness with your managers. In the case of job searching, I don’t. You may be in line for a promotion or internal transfer, only to have it snatched away the first time you mention you are thinking of leaving. Ironically, it may have been that promotion or internal transfer that convinced you to stay with your employer.

Communicate your desire for increased responsibilities, higher salary, different hours, or whatever you are looking for. But don’t tell them you are looking for a new job. You might just be the first person out the door if your management thinks you are leaving anyway. It just isn’t worth the risk.

Be discreet

Don’t talk about your job search with the receptionist, leave your resume at the office printer, or openly browse on-line job search engines like Monster or Career Builder (if you post your resume with these services, do so anonymously so your name doesn’t pop up if your current employer is researching new candidates). It doesn’t take much to start a rumor, and once that rumor gets going, you may find yourself first on the chopping block if staff reductions hit.

Limit use of company resources while job hunting

Many companies monitor computer use or have strict rules regarding personal use of computers, telephones, printers, fax machines, or other resources. The last thing you want to happen is to get fired because you were caught using company resources while trying to get a job somewhere else! Do your job search from home during the evenings and weekends.

Schedule interviews wisely

The best time of day to schedule an interview is early in the morning, just before lunch, or near the end of the day. These times make it easier to get away from work without arousing suspicion. If you need to, take a day off from work to take care of an interview.

You should also avoid scheduling phone interviews while you are at work – it is very easy to hear everything that goes on in a cubicle! If you need to, duck out to your car or go to a public place with a quiet atmosphere, such as a Starbucks or Panera Bread.

Dress appropriately for interviews – and work

When you start interviewing, it is usually common to wear a suit and tie. However, many companies allow their workers to dress business casual. If this is your case, don’t wear a suit and tie to work, at least, don’t wear the jacket and tie. Bring them with you and stash them in the car. Duck into a gas station or fast food restaurant on the way to your interview to arrange your tie. Or, you can tie your tie in the car using the review mirror, but it’s more difficult than it looks!

Discretion above all

I know it seems like I recommend doing a lot of sneaking around, but that is not my intention. You aren’t doing anything wrong by looking for another job – you have to take responsibility for your career, because no one else will. Being discreet makes it easier to avoid rumors, keep your current job, and not burn any bridges in the process. As long as you act professionally, you have nothing to worry about.

My situation. By the way, I have a telephone interview scheduled for this week. I’ll be sure to share the details and a few tips soon!

Check out what these bloggers have to say on job searching while employed:

Photo credit: heraldpost

Published or updated December 26, 2012.
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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 James

To help “Be discreet” check out this new site for resume review. You can block all incriminating information easily and still receive helpful critique.


2 Ron@TheWisdomJournal

I agree with you on NOT telling management you’re looking. That is a recipe for disaster.


3 Frugal Dad

Great advice! It’s hard to find a job if you don’t have one already, but doing so is a tightrope walk that could lead to burning some bridges if not done carefully. Your idea of pulling a Superman change on the way to your interview is a good one (too bad AT&T is doing away with phone booths).


4 tom

Whether or not to tell your management depends on the relationship you have with them. I work for a huge corporation and had a good working relationship with my management. When my wife and I decided to move closer to the midwest/east coast (we were in Seattle), I told management of my decision and they said, we know people out that way, we’ll see what we can do for you. In the end, I found my new job on my own, but I don’t think it can hurt to be open with them (depending).


5 Ryan


That’s a great point. In your situation, you may have been able to work an internal transfer to the location you wanted, ans maybe even have them pay for the move.

My situation is a little different though. I have no desire to leave the local area at this time. Add to the fact they know I’ve been unhappy the last couple months, and I think it could end poorly for me if I told them my intentions.

Thanks for the comment! 🙂


6 Know The Ledge

I agree that the amount of information you tell your management will depend on your relationship with them. However, if you’re trying to move within your same company, your manager could potentially be a huge asset in getting you where you really want to go. You shouldn’t talk about leaving specifically, but definitely let them know that your current position is not aligning with your career goals anymore.


7 Tom

Telling management that you are looking for other options can be great leverage to get a raise, promotion, or that internal transfer you are looking for.

I think in most cases it is better to be open and honest.


8 Ryan

Tom, it may be a good way to negotiate a raise or promotion, but it also may make management suspicious of your intentions or make them question your loyalty. I think a lot of it depends on your relationship and how secure you think your position is.


9 Ace

See if you can get away with posting just your first name and initials for your surname. Then post a different number and email address from the database in your work. Definitely stay low key as using their resources will never reflect well on your own character.


10 Somebody

Do you think that sending your CV to another company can pose risk? I mean, you don’t want your prospective employer to contact your current one, right? I’m working for a big international corporation, but I’m planning on going to an even bigger and even more international corporation in the long term. Should I be afraid of the latter contacting the former for some reason? Should I send an anonymous CV omitting any information which identifies me?


11 Ryan

There is always risk involved, so it’s up to you to try and mitigate that risk. Consider applying for a specific position at the company you wish to join, instead of just sending in your resume for any position you *might* be qualified for.

Another way to go, and perhaps the best way, is to submit your resume to someone who already works there, and have them run it through their system or put it in front of someone who makes hiring decisions. That will increase your odds of getting an interview, and possibly getting hired. Be sure to let that person know you are currently employed and don’t wish your current employer to know you are looking at other options. They may check other references first, or hold off on contacting your employer altogether.

I have never sent in an anonymous resume before, but I am assuming they would have some way of contacting you (otherwise it defeats the purpose)?


12 NancyBeyond

I agree – I do the same thing. I learned a long time ago to always have an updated resume and to always be searching for the next job. In the past people would stay at companies for 30+ years but the world is different today. It doesn’t mean that you will actually leave your current company – just that you are prepared for all eventualities!


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