How to Search for a Job Without Alerting Your Boss (or Getting on Your Boss’s Bad Side)

Thinking-Of-Your-Next-Job-Move-medIt’s normal to want another job while you’re already employed; maybe you’re looking for new challenges, a better compensation package, a promotion, or maybe you just don’t like your current boss. Whatever it is, one thing remains constant–your current employer must not find out that you’re looking for another job.

 The Consequences Could be Severe

Your current employer is almost certainly going to take your actions against you, especially if you’re seeking a job with their competitor. Depending on how your current boss might react, he or she may give you a hard time at work, interfere with your job search, give you a bad reference, or report you to Human Resources.

To help you avoid the backlash of your current employer, it’s important to be very discreet of what you say from the moment you decide to look for another job.

Proceed with Caution: 5 Tips to Help You Look for a Job without Getting Fired for Doing So

1.  Tell the recruiter to keep your job search confidential – This is very important, especially if you work in a competitive industry where qualified talents are scarce. Advise the recruiter that you’re currently employed and not to tell anyone that you’re in the market for a new job, unless it’s absolutely vital to the application process.

2.  Don’t list anyone from your current company as a reference – Your boss isn’t likely to give you a glowing reference if he unexpectedly gets a call from another company asking about you. And even if you only list your colleagues, you can’t trust that word won’t get around and reach your boss.

3. Schedule job interviews (both phone and in-person) during non-work hours – Show up for work as usual, and take on the same workload. The point is to not to make others wonder what you’ve been up to. If you are scheduling an interview, try your best to do it before or after work hours–or use your vacation leave. That said, don’t show up to work wearing your “interview clothes” as well, because that might raise suspicions, especially if you don’t normally dress that way.

If you followed tip #1, the recruiter is likely to do his best to work within your preferred schedule.

4.  Don’t use company resources – This might be a no-brainer tip for others but in case it’s not obvious, your employer might be using a computer monitoring software to track everything. Even using your company’s Wi-Fi isn’t a good idea, because every page you visit will be recorded in the network’s server. Don’t use your work phone and email as well because that’s monitored, too.

5.  Don’t go AWOL (absence without leave) – Even if you’re 100% positive that you’re going to find another job, it’s never a good idea to leave your current employer with a bad impression of your work. You never know what might happen next, so don’t go burning bridges!

What if My Boss Finds Out?

This is unlikely to happen if you follow all the tips listed above, but in case it does, it’s best if you tell the truth. Lying when your boss already knows would only make things worse so give your boss a good reason for your job hunting efforts instead.

Tell the truth, but choose your words carefully so as not to make things worse. For instance, you could say, “I’m grateful for my job here, but I’m looking for new challenges” or “I’m happy with my job here, but I would also like to explore other options.”