If you’re like most executive job seekers, you’re conducting a confidential job search.
Your company may be on shaky ground these days. Or you’ve decided to move to another company for other reasons. Or maybe you want to pursue a different kind of job.
Whatever the reason, you likely want to hang on to your existing job, while you’re looking for another one.
If your employer finds out you’re planning to leave, you may find yourself ushered out the door, before you’re ready.
Staying under cover in a job search is a delicate thing. Proceed cautiously.
5 “DON’Ts” That Can Blow a Hole in Your Confidential Executive Job Search
1. Don’t broadcast to your entire network that you’re looking
An early step in job search is connecting with your first degree network, to let them know that you’re looking and what you’re looking for. These are people who may have some connection to the companies or organizations you’re targeting, or know someone who does.
If you’re not sure of your career direction yet, these people may be able to help you decide.
Only discuss your job search with those you can entirely trust to keep it to themselves. This probably includes only your first degree connections, plus your existing recruiter connections and new ones in your niche that you’re developing.
And think twice before telling anyone you work with that you’re job-hunting.
2. Don’t use your employer’s equipment or technology
Even at the c-suite level, never assume your work emails are private. And it’s probably not a great idea to make phone calls related to your search from your business office.
Internet and phone usage may be monitored. Your employer can see, if you’ve been visiting job search-related websites. And if you suddenly leave the company, you may lose access to all those emails.
Use only your own equipment, in your own space, for your job search. Set up a professionally-named email account not associated with your company email, just for your job search.
The contact information on your resume, online profiles and other job search materials should not be associated with your employer.
3. Don’t be careless on LinkedIn and other social media
The vast majority of recruiters and hiring decision makers Google candidates of interest for social proof. They typically prefer those with strong online presence over those without, so it’s not wise to remain invisible online.
You definitely need to have a branded, 100% complete LinkedIn profile, just to keep pace with your competitors who have one. Beyond that, you need a vibrant, diverse online footprint to distinguish and support your candidacy to your target employers.
But NEVER state in your online profiles that you’re job-hunting.
LinkedIn has become an accepted networking tool for career management and business-building (not just job search). But your current employer may suspect any activity of yours on LinkedIn.
I always advise my clients to have a ready explanation for why they’re updating their LinkedIn profile, or any other online profile, and why they’re suddenly active on social networks.
Conversely, don’t let this threat keep you from building an online presence and using social media for your job search.
And here are two other LinkedIn “DON’Ts” that can sabotage your confidential executive job search:
- Don’t post an update in your LinkedIn feed about your job search, or mention in a comment on someone else’s update that you’re job-hunting.
- Don’t start a conversation in a LinkedIn Group about your job search, or mention in a comment in a Group conversation that you’re job-hunting.
4. Don’t post a revealing comment on a job search-related website
I can’t tell you how many times prospective clients have made the huge mistake of reaching out to me initially by posting a comment on one of my blogsites. They’ll include their real name and the company they work for, and write something like this:
“I’m about to leave my position at [name of company] after 15 years. We recently went through a merger and heads are being cut left and right. I don’t have a resume, so I’m interested in learning more about your resume and branding services. How do I get in touch with you?”
Luckily, comments on my blogsites wait in a queue for my approval, so they don’t go live automatically. I don’t approve and post any comments like this. I email these people directly with information about my services.
On other sites, all comments may be automatically posted, without approval. Then you’ve left yourself wide open to being found out.
5. Don’t post your resume to ANY job board
Employers are known to search job boards looking for defecting employees. They’ll find you through your name and their own company name.
Sure, you can fictionalize all identifying information (your name, company names, job titles, etc.), but then your resume may be so impersonal it won’t get noticed.
The other thing is, once you post your resume to a job board, you may not be able to take it down. So you’ll appear to be a perpetual job seeker.
Besides, this shouldn’t be much of an issue for you. You know better than to waste much time on job boards, right? You know that they yield something like a dismal 10-20% success rate.
Instead, spend your limited job search time identifying the hiring decision makers at your target companies, networking your way towards hidden (or unadvertised) jobs . . . confidentially . . . and circumventing job boards entirely.