September 2, 2014

Should You Tell Colleagues About Your Job Search?

businesswoman telling a secret to colleague in the office2014 is predicted to be the year of high employee turnover, according to the Hay Group. It’s no surprise, really, as most surveys indicate that the average worker is disengaged at work and fed up with pay cuts, long hours and the habitual job insecurity of the recent recession. But, now with most economies bouncing back and candidate confidence having returned, many of you are ready to start looking elsewhere for work after playing it safe by staying put for a few years.

But, as you may remember from when you last looked for a job, conducting a job search is a risky business. If your co-workers, or worse still, your manager get wind that you are looking for a job, it can be seriously damaging to your career. Because, if it gets out that you are looking for a job it can lower your personal stock value in the organization. Co-workers may start to see you as not dependable in the long term and even a liability and you may find that you are bypassed for long-term projects, and co-workers may start to invest less time in you which could make it harder for you to deliver. Your manager may also be concerned about entrusting you with long-term or higher-level work as they aren’t sure you will be around to complete them. If it becomes public knowledge that you are looking for a job, it can be career limiting, which is why you want to keep your job search confidential up until the point of receiving a job offer.

And so how can you achieve this

1. To start with, avoid using company email to communicate with recruiters and employers. Use your personal email account to be sure that the communication between you and recruiters remains absolutely private.

2. Next, avoid taking recruiter calls during normal working hours as it’s fairly hard to disguise a call to a recruiter. Someone will get wind of what you are doing. If you are going to make recruiter calls, stick to before work or the lunch break. Encourage your recruiter to text you as it’s more discrete. Don’t allow your job search to derail or destabilize your performance in your current job. Whether you stay or eventually get the job, it is in your best interest to be viewed as a top performer throughout the job search period.

3. It may be a little inconvenient, but try and arrange interviews either before or after work so you can avoid taking off several half days over a short period, which can indicate to your employer and co-workers that you are attending interviews. Don’t wear your interview attire to work (unless it’s the same as your normal work clothes), as this will be a clear clue that you have just attended or will be attending an interview. Get changed in the car or your gym.

4. Remember, much of your social media activity is public and can be seen by others, so you need to be discreet about your job search activity on social media. Avoid publicly tweeting recruiters and employers about job search queries as this can be seen by others. Remember, it only takes one colleague to spot a sign that you are job searching on your social media profile and it will be round the office in no time. I know this goes against the purpose of LinkedIn, but if you want to keep your job search quiet, don’t actively advertise that you are seeking a new job on your LinkedIn profile. Liaise directly with recruiters and employers.

Read more in Job Search Advice

Kazim Ladimeji is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has been a practicing HR professional for 14 years. Kazim is the Director of The Career Cafe: a resource for start-ups, small business and job seekers.