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How can you protect the job you have while looking for the job you want? This is much more challenging than it was in the stone age, before internet oversharing and employee monitoring.
While you should be looking out for MeInc and what’s best for your future, your employer is looking out for the interests of the corporation, and they may see your plans to leave as disloyal. So if you’re looking, don’t inadvertently reveal your plans, not to your boss, not to your work BFF’s and definitely not to your random social media audience, because it could cost you the job you have. Looking for a job while you are employed and want a new one is inconvenient, but looking when you’re unemployed and need one is markedly more stressful.
Don’t look for work while you’re at work
Make no mistake. They will find out. Modern technology has made employee monitoring legal, simple and inexpensive. Using company time, equipment, email addresses, vehicles or phones to conduct your job search will raise a red flag to your employer. In a world where downsizing is the easiest way to cut costs, using work time and company property for anything job search-related is risky. Manage your job search from home or a coffee shop on your own time, anywhere but your workplace.
Keep your departure plans 100% confidential. Tell no one! Not even your work bestie. This kind of news almost always reaches the ears of the office gossip, and sooner or later management finds out and your credibility will be hurt and you could find yourself replaced.
Don’t let anything about your conduct reveal that you’re losing interest in your job and exercise discretion about time off for interviews and meetings with recruiters. Everything should go on as before. Maintain normal behaviors and performance. Dress the way you’ve always dressed, contribute to meetings what you’ve always contributed, and keep the same hours.
Employers need your written permission to check your references and credit history, but your social media presence is public and is increasingly being used by employers to cull out short-list candidates by what they say and the company they keep online. Be mindful of what you’re putting out on social media. Don’t announce your job search to your audience at large. Even if you think you have your boss blocked on Facebook, it’s not foolproof. Someone in your network is likely to be in their network, and 6 degrees of separation is a downside of social networking over which you have no control. When you are planning a confidential transition, clean up your digital dirt and don’t discuss it with anyone unless they are professionally relevant to your target job.
Instead, what you can do is carefully cultivate your reputation as a professional by expanding your networks on LinkedIn and other professional networking sites.
You should also conduct periodic searches on yourself and clean up any digital dirt you are able to remove, say, those controversial political posts that may have appeared lately. If there is negative press out there that you can’t remove, you will need to combat that with positive media so the most current information shows up higher in searches.
Don’t neglect off-line interaction
Every working professional should be active in local professional and business organizations. Networking is an ongoing process that continues throughout the life of your career. Being personally known by the rainmakers in your profession is something that can be of value to you when it is time to network specifically for job search.
Reinvest in the job you have
While this seems counter-intuitive, this is the perfect time to increase your commitment: to your boss, your work, professional competency and your team. Become the ideal professional you are selling to potential employers and gain valid accomplishment statements to illustrate your qualifications to a prospective employer. It may also may help improve things on your current job either by shifting your attitude, or getting the recognition of management for your improved performance. Things may improve so significantly that you don’t want to leave. At the very least, you and your employer will get more value from the remaining time you spend together.