HidingEven as the job market improves and more employees are jettisoning from their old jobs for greener pastures, some workers are stuck in awful jobs they would love to escape, but they aren’t sure how to go about it. As they try to change jobs, they must do so on a hush-hush basis and try to remain honest and discreet. Here are some useful tips to help people in this sort of situation:

1. Don’t Steal Office Property or Time

  • If you must send or receive email, tweet, check up on your contacts, or make phone calls, use your own equipment, such as a laptop, netbook, digital tablet, or smartphone.
  • Search on your own time by leaving the building when it’s your normal routine (coming early, staying late, eating lunch out, etc.). Search inside only when you’re assured of privacy.
  • Remember: Bosses can legally monitor company equipment to see what you’ve been up to, and they pay more attention to employees whose behavior raises suspicions.

2. Review Your Online Privacy Settings

  • Don’t announce your intentions on a social media page such as Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.
  • If you’re working with recruiters, insist that your resume not be released to anyone without your agreement.
  • Check your resume for giveaways, such as these:
    • You removed your name and contact information but forgot to delete other identifying information from your resume.
    • You wanted to impress potential employers, so you included your current job on your resume.
    • You named too many employers and brands, making your identity easy to guess. Instead, describe them in generic terms (e.g., “midsize gardening supply distributor” and “well-known brands”).

3. Be Careful Not to Exhibit Tell-Tale Signs of Your Impending Exit:

Such clues include behaviors similar to these:

  • You use more sick days than usual, take longer lunch hours, or keep having car trouble or floods in the kitchen. Your hair is fluffed, your makeup is perfect. Solution: Try to schedule job interviews at night and on weekends.
  • You ask farewell questions, such as: “How much does COBRA continuation of health benefits cost?”
  • You begin regularly taking your personal belongings home.
  • You’re seen at a job fair and offer a transparent excuse: “I’m checking opportunities for a sick friend.”

4. What to Do if Your Boss Finds Out

  • Don’t lie and don’t succumb to pressure to stay.
  • Explain that it is difficult to leave one job for another, but for personal reasons (make of list of these reasons ahead of time and practice delivering them), you find it necessary to look for employment elsewhere. If it is an option for you, ask if there is any chance to work out your concerns where you are.
  • Try to remove emotion from the discussion and perhaps win an improved situation in your current job, or at least buy time for your job search.
  • If your situation slides downhill fast, ask for a quid pro quo. That is, if you’re not forced out before you are ready to leave, you’ll train your replacement on your own time.


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