If you’re looking for a new job, there’s a chance you’re feeling unfulfilled in your current position and you’re so over your boss that instead of bringing this up to them and hoping for a change, you’re ready to jump ship entirely.
Especially if you and your boss aren’t on good terms as it is—and you don’t feel like they’re a support system for you—how terrible would it be if they realized you were actively searching for an escape route? If, heaven forbid, you lost out on a job you were interviewing for and had to continue working for a boss who now knew how unhappy you were, the idea of continuing to show up to work under them every day would be absolutely mortifying.
That’s why you need to know how to job hunt on the down-low.
LinkedIn has a feature called #OpenToWork that lets you demonstrate to recruiters that you’re actively hunting for new roles. As LinkedIn explains:
If you’re looking for a job, you can let recruiters and your network on LinkedIn know you’re open to new job opportunities. If you specify the types of job opportunities that you’re interested in and your preferred location, we’ll help your profile show up in search results when recruiters look for suitable job candidates.
There’s a balance here, though. Advertising yourself as willing and able to interview for and take a new job makes it easier to, well, interview for and take a new job. But it also makes it pretty obvious what you’re up to. Your job might have recruiters trawling LinkedIn, too, and they might rat you out if they see you’ve enabled that feature.
This could work in your favor, of course. Maybe your HR department or boss would come to you with solutions to your complaints or an offer of a raise if they knew you were searching. This is why it’s important to consider approaching your boss with your grievances and requests before looking to bail.
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But you know your workplace culture and all of its unique quirks. If that were an option, you probably wouldn’t be actively looking. So bear in mind that if you advertise yourself as available, your boss might just find out. Prepare yourself for that conversation and any awkwardness that follows.
You can also head it off by double-checking your settings. Make sure your “Notify Your Network” setting is turned off. The #OpenToWork feature only advertises you to people outside your network, too, so connect with the entire HR team at your company to avoid moles seeing when you have it turned on.
Job interviews are tough to schedule if you already have a job. To get to the potential employer during work hours, you might have to leave your own job during those same work hours. We don’t recommend lying and saying you have a doctor’s appointment, but work out your phrasing in advance. Just saying you have “an appointment” could work, if your managers aren’t super strict about knowing where you are when you’re not at your desk.
When coordinating an interview with another company’s recruiter, don’t sound too desperate, no matter how bad your situation is. It’s a job-hunting no-no to diss your current employer, but you can delicately explain that there might be scheduling conflicts and you’d appreciate the recruiter’s help finding a suitable interview time that works for you and the hiring manager. It’s their job to get good candidates into the interview chair, so work with them and try not to spin a web of lies as you go.
We live in a work-obsessed, capitalist society and at plenty of companies, lunch breaks and appointments are rigidly scheduled. If you have vacation days, consider redeeming one for the day of your interview so you’re not on a time crunch. If all else fails, you might have to dash to the interview on your lunch break, but make sure you tell the hiring team in advance if that’s the case so that this can run smoothly and on-time.
If you’re actively looking for a new job, start dressing up every day at your current one. That will not only put you in a very business-forward mindset, but will make it much less suspicious if you show up one day in a fancy interview outfit. If your current workplace is really casual, change into the interview garb somewhere besides your office bathroom. Nothing is quite as suspicious as emerging from the restroom in a dress and heels before “lunch” or “an appointment.”
Once you get into a talking stage of sorts with a recruiter or hiring manager, be totally honest with them. As mentioned above, work with them to schedule interviews that won’t raise suspicion in your current office setting.
Beyond that, make it clear from the jump that you’d prefer your activities be confidential. You have a right to ask them not to contact your employer and to tell them, professionally, that you are keeping this hush-hush. If the