Moving On -- Quietly

By Lauren Baumbauer

May 1, 2009 5 min read

MOVING ON -- QUIETLY

Searching for new work takes discretion with a current employer

Lauren Baumbauer

Creators News Service

Some individuals may consider themselves lucky just to have a stable source of income, even if it's from a job without growth potential. But despite the economy, there are numerous opportunities to be found in the job market depending on when and where a seeker is looking.

"Searching for a job is less stressful when the person is in a stable financial situation," said Roxanne Ravenel, a job search coach and founder of The Savvy Jobseeker.

It's also a chance to focus and potentially find a way up that proverbial ladder.

"If your career advancement is stalled where you are, and you are an ambitious person, you need to move on," said Don Asher, a speaker and author of "Who Gets Promoted, Who Doesn't and Why: 10 Things You'd Better Do If You Want to Get Ahead" ($15, Ten Speed Press). Moving on can mean either moving up in a current company, switching companies or starting a completely new career.

However, looking for employment and working is a tricky balance. So how does one successfully search for a new job while carrying out the daily grind?

If you want to leave your company, it's best to keep your employer out of the loop. It's important to take precautions against getting caught and fired by the current employer. According to Asher, unless the employee has a contract with their company stating otherwise, it's legal for an employer to fire their employee looking for a new opportunity in most states.

The first step is to steer clear of any job hunting during business hours. Avoid using the company computer to job search online and do not e-mail potential employers from a work e-mail address. "Employers can monitor your computers and they own your e-mail," Asher warned. While it may seem obvious, these mistakes happen with high frequency.

There's also the risk of co-workers catching a glimpse of the computer screen in passing or overhearing an incriminating phone conversation. Instead of using the company phone to discuss job details, use a personal cell phone during breaks held away from the office or after work.

Also avoid talking to any work colleagues about the job hunt -- even best friends. "Office gossip is like high school; only office affair gossip travels faster than someone looking for a new job," said Asher.

It's best to not utilize anything company related, including the copy machine for resumes or handing out company business cards to contacts. "Leaving a resume in the copy machine by mistake happens and it's never a good idea to reference the current employer in case they're contacted before the next job is set," said Ravenel.

She also recommended leaving out any current work contact information when completing applications. "Instead, reference clients or vendors who worked with you."

Those references can come in handy in other ways, particularly with networking efforts. "Looking at online job boards is the least effective method of finding a job," said Ravenel. "So build a network from references or other job seekers. It's all about who you know."

Hassan Beeb, senior manager of biznets.com and publisher of headhuntersdirectory.com, agreed. "It's not good to market resumes across the Internet," he said. Besides a current employer finding it, there is also a lot of competition. While Internet job boards should be taken advantage of, Beeb suggested it's also important to be aware and use recruiters instead.

Ravenel said hiring a career consultant or recruiter is a proactive approach to searching without getting caught or interrupting the workday. They also teach how to focus resumes and find the companies that provide the best fit.

It may be necessary to take a personal day or use a lunch break to go to an interview. However, Asher advised being careful about changing normal habits. "If you don't normally dress up for work, don't suddenly dress up on the day of an interview. You may need to be like a teenager who sneaks out and changes at a coffee shop during a lunch break."

Staying discreet in order to stay employed is an important job search skill. It is possible to have a stable salary while keeping a keen eye on the horizon.

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