businessman avoids falling off cliffA good friend of mine had a mission: to find a new job. Sounds like most people, right? Well, he was employed at a Fortune 500 company, very close with his boss and other team members, and actually a big asset to his department—but culture wise, it just wasn’t the right fit.

Now do you see his previous dilemma? There he was at a job he’s successful at and in a position where his team members and manager truly counted on his work, yet he was making plans to leave. And although he cared for his colleagues and the company, he had to make a move that was better for his future (and what he ultimately desired to do).

So, my friend came up with an exit strategy:

  • He researched companies in his area that had open positions for what he was looking to do;
  • He never took a day off during this time, accumulating his vacation time and sick days;
  • Every day he applied for new positions until he was finally granted an interview;
  • My friend used two of his vacation days to take time off and go to the interview; and
  • A few weeks later, he was handing in his resignation letter…and no one saw it coming.

Now, I’m not saying you should put on your ‘CIA hat’ and classify your job search as top secret; even my friend expressed his culture-fit concerns to his boss on occasion. Yet, when looking for new employment while employed, there are certain don’t’s you must adhere to.

It’s always important to exercise tact and diplomacy as far as how you go about things. A lot of practices are common sense, but below are three of the biggest don’t’s you should follow when searching for a new job:

1. Don’t Look for Jobs at Work

Although it may be tempting to do your job seeking during that “down time” at the office, avoid the temptation. To begin with, many offices monitor things like incoming and outgoing e-mail. You don’t want to be caught looking for another of employment (especially a competitor) while you’re supposed to be working. The same is true for web browsing. I’ve worked at plenty of places that ensure their IT departments block certain sites; you think they won’t notice you surfing every day?

Also, it’s all too easy to attach the wrong thing to an outgoing e-mail or send the right e-mail to the wrong place. Avoid embarrassment by taking care of such things outside of work… or at least waiting until your lunch hour so that you can use your personal phone or laptop.

2. Don’t Allow Potential Employers to Call your Current Job

It seems like something that should be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people go right ahead and list their current work number as their daytime phone number to contact. After all, that’s where they are most days, right? It makes sense to them and they fail to consider the possible consequences—that is until the potential employer calls and someone else happens to pick up the phone.

Remember Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. The potential employer calls and asks for your manager instead of the co-worker you clearly listed for a reference. Or, if your team shares a phone or works in a tight space, your boss just so happens to pick up the phone for you while you stepped away to use the restroom…and guess who’s on the line? Better to play it safe than sorry and avoid giving out your office number.

3. Don’t Slack Off

It’s only natural when looking for a new job that you might feel a little disenchanted with your current place of business. However, it’s important to not start slacking or goofing off. Don’t miss deadlines, don’t allow the quality of your work to decline, don’t call off or come in late. Don’t make your intentions obvious! This is not only completely unprofessional, but it is also the easiest way to clue your boss in to the fact that something’s up.

Keep in mind that you don’t know whether or not you actually have a new position yet. You may need to keep the one you have for longer than you think; so, be sure to stay on good terms. At the very least, you will probably want to use the job for a reference going forward into the future.

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