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How to Conduct a Sneaky Job Search at Work


First things first: looking for a new job on the company’s time is a bad idea. But sometimes, life intervenes — for instance, if you work 14 hours a day, and most weekends, it can be hard to carve out time that’s really “yours.” So what do you do to minimize the risk of getting caught?

one of these kids is not like the others 

(Photo Credit: avrene/Flickr)

1. Don’t use company equipment.

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Your corporate laptop, smartphone, and Wifi are all off-limits for your sneaky job hunt. Even if you clear your browser history religiously, and browse job search sites only when you think no one is looking, there’s no way to be 100 percent sure than Big Brother isn’t watching you.

Remember that time, too, is a corporate resource. If you work reasonable hours, and can carve out time to search at home, that’s still your best bet. For one thing, you’re less likely to make a mistake and send the wrong cover letter, or the unedited copy of your resume, if you have time and space to concentrate.

If you really are stuck at work from sunup until sundown, and have to carry the corporate Batphone the rest of the time, be discrete and reasonable — and use your own smartphone. Don’t while away hours in the middle of the day looking for your next move. Rule of thumb: don’t let your work slide, while you’re searching for a new job.

2. Apps are your friend.

LinkedIn, Monster, CareerBuilder — all your favorite job boards, social networks, and services have their own app version. Alison Doyle of’s Job Searching site offers a roundup of iPhone and iPad apps here. Many have Android versions, as well, and most are free. Using apps, on your own phone, can cut out some of the risk of applying online the old-fashioned way.

3. Be careful on social media.

“You’ll have to network,” writes Jada A. Graves at Us News. “And using LinkedIn is crucial … but remember to be covert, lest your current boss becomes suspicious with an uptick in your activity.”

In other words, don’t change all your headlines and bios in such a way that your boss will be forced to recognize that you’re looking for something new. She might not be able to fire you for looking, but she can start paying close attention to you and your work … and that’s exactly what you don’t want.

4. Put in 110 percent at your current job.

Don’t leave before you leave, as the saying goes. Tempting though it may be to disengage completely, if you’re still collecting a check, you should put in the work. You’ll feel better and be less stressed out, because you won’t have to waste energy worrying about getting busted for checking out mentally.

5. Don’t lie … at least, not more than you have to.

Everyone’s had the fake dentist appointment that covers a job interview, but unless there’s no other way to get time off, don’t lean on these excuses — they’re a great way to get caught in a lie. It’s far better to take a personal day, if possible, and keep the fibbing to a minimum.

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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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