Practising safe job-searching

0 May 15, 2015 at 1:41 pm by

Most people, at some point in their career, decide to explore their career options. It could be dissatisfaction with the current job, a feeling that it’s time for a change, or simply a desire to see what else is out there. As much as wondering if the grass really is greener on the other side might be a normal part of every professional’s life, job searching is not without risk. This is especially true if an employer discovers that one of its current employees is looking for a new job. At a minimum, this can lead the employer to question the employee’s loyalty. At worst, it can get the employee fired.

Handshake to seal a deal after a job recruitment meeting

Handshake to seal a deal after a job recruitment meeting

This was brought home to me recently when a potential candidate emailed me his resume from his work email account. I emailed him back at his personal email address to say that, although I had no reason to think his work emails were being monitored, I thought it was safer to communicate using his personal email address. A few days later, he emailed me to say, Your suggestion to correspond via personal email as it turns out, was very ominous – ironic some might suggest – as my emails were in fact being monitored. I was let go Friday morning for that very reason. I have been talking to a few other potential employers – mostly existing clients – so all of it was done on company email (in hindsight, perhaps an egregious error on my part).’

An egregious error to be sure. And one that led me to put together a list of things to do, and not to do, when job searching so that you can explore your career options without putting your current job at unnecessary risk.

  • Use your personal email account when communicating with recruiters or potential employers.

As highlighted in the above example, using your work email account is clearly unsafe. The phrase ‘asking for trouble’ comes to mind.

  • Use a personal email address as the primary email address on social media sites and job boards.

When potential employers or recruiters send a message through a network site such as LinkedIn, the message arrives as an email. If the primary email address in your LinkedIn settings is your work email account, change your settings so that messages are sent to your personal email account.

  • Don’t use your company-supplied computer or laptop.

If you have a personal computer at home, use it. When connected to the Internet using an employer-supplied device, there is the possibility that your on-line activity may be monitored. Also, if your work computer ever needs repair or maintenance, there is no advantage to giving your employer’s IT department access to everything stored on your computer.

  • Don’t broadcast your job search electronically.

If you have a blog site or a profile on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, don’t use any of these as a platform for letting the world know that you are looking for a new job. While there is something to be said for getting the word out that you’re in the market, there is nothing to be said for making your search so widely accessible that your current employer can see it.

  • Don’t slander your current employer

As tempting as it might be to get a shot in on a social media site such as Facebook, never say disparaging things about your former employer(s). This goes for interviews as well. A great person can work for a great company; it just didn’t prove to be a great partnership.

  • When posting your resume on job boards, instead of identifying your current employer, disguise your current employer’s name.

When a candidate posts his/her resume on an on-line job board such as Indeed, Monster or Workopolis, the candidate loses control of who sees the resume. If your job-board resume includes the name of your current employer, there is the risk of having your employer stumble upon your resume while conducting an on-line search. During the initial search and screening process, it’s not necessary for a prospective employer to know exactly which company currently employs you. Instead of stating you work at ABC Insurance Company, provide a general description of your current employer: if the description applies, something along the lines of ‘an insurance company that writes personal lines and mid-market commercial lines business’. This information, along with a detailed description of your current role, your previous work experience and your other credentials, should be enough for a prospective employer or recruiter to know whether you are a worthy candidate. If there is interest, the potential employer or recruiter will make direct contact. When this happens, the name of your current employer and any other relevant information can be supplied.

We all at some point wonder if the grass is greener on the other side. Ideally, this can be done without jeopardizing your current job. There is no way of absolutely guaranteeing that word of your job search will not leak out. Still, it makes sense to take steps to lessen the chance of this happening.

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