Every ambitious employee or executive knows to always be on the lookout for the next big job opportunity around the corner. The modern job seeker almost expects to hop around every few years in order to stay fresh and keep ahead of the competition. It’s only natural for individuals to keep an eye on their career path by regularly dipping their toes into the job market to see what’s available.
However, so-called “passive job seekers” need to be mindful of their search methods if they expect to find positive results and protect their good standing in the eyes of their current employer. Already employed job seekers should take a casual and tactful approach to the process or else risk damaging their reputation in the long term.
Avoid overly aggressive job search campaigns: Strive to be professional and discreet in all your proceedings. For example, advertising your upcoming availability on the major job board sites is a surefire way to get noticed by all the wrong people. Avoid blasting your resume anywhere and don’t give your co-workers a reason to suspect your intentions.
At the same time, be careful not to conduct any job search activity while you’re at work. You often hear about employers accidentally finding job search documents in the photocopy machine, intercepting personal emails, or overhearing an ill-timed conversation with a recruiter on the phone. Don’t take the risk of professional ruin – search for a job on your own time.
Tread lightly and be aware of your surroundings: You should be able to conduct your search comfortably and with determination. Working with recruiters takes some of the stress and burden off your shoulders, but be sure to only work with reputable individuals that you know will protect your privacy and won’t pass your name along to every single employer that is hiring.
If you conduct your own search – making calls, following up on leads, and using LinkedIn – make sure your conversations are kept private. Be aware that sudden bursts of social media activity, drastic profile changes and added network connections may be perceived as red flags by your employer.
Know exactly who you’re dealing with: If you see or hear about a job opening that’s perfect for you, it’s tempting to submit a resume without networking behind the scenes for some more information. However, if you value your current employment, you don’t have that luxury. You have to understand exactly what hiring manager will be seeing your resume, and in what company’s database your resume is going to.
One thing to do is to frame your conversations in the context of “career networking” versus active job search. If you already have a job, you really shouldn’t need to “look for a job.” You want to be open to great opportunity and to look out for your long-term interests. If you frame conversations in this context, you will also protect yourself if your employer somehow finds out about your meeting. The first “interview” should not be an interview – just a networking meeting.
In the end, an overly aggressive job search campaign can lead to embarrassment. Even if it doesn’t lead to direct termination, an employer that knows you are “short for this world” will pass you over for career opportunities and advancement. However, with diligence, patience, and caution, you can keep employed and stay open to new career opportunities at the same time.