20 Ways You Can Blow Your Cover in Your Stealth Job Search and Lose Your Job

WorkCoachCafeIf you hate your job, and want to leave, go for it.  But, job hunt VERY carefully!  I have spoken with many job seekers who wanted to find new jobs, and made the mistake of not keeping their intentions a secret at work.  It cost them their jobs!

Why Your Employer Does NOT Want You Job Hunting

Employers are not happy to learn that an employee is job hunting.  And, most of the time the reason they are unhappy is not necessarily because they value that employee so highly (although they may).  Employers typically have two main concerns.

First, an employee who is job hunting is obviously not focusing 100% of their time on their job. An employee who is job hunting is not paying attention to their work, distracted from their work by their job search activities.

Second, employers are not happy to learn that an employee is job hunting because they are concerned about what the departing employee will take with them when they leave – “company secrets” and/or other employees.

To cut their losses, they often show the job seeker quickly out the door, sometimes without an opportunity to pack up any personal items in their office, cube, or work area.

20 Ways You May Blow Your Cover and Lose Your Job

If you want to leave, keep your desire – and your job search – secret.  Careless or casual use of technology is often what trips up job seekers today, and  recent studies have shown that the majority of employers do monitor employee use of these technologies (computers, Internet connections, telephones, cell phone, voicemail, email).

Read the list below to keep your job search intentions invisible to your employer and your co-workers.

Risky Behavior to Avoid

Risky job board behavior:

  1. You openly post your resume on job boards or other job search-related sites, complete with your name and your current employer’s name visible, making it easy for your employer to find your resume.  Employers do search job board resume databases for the resumes of employees who are job hunting. [For how to post your resume while protecting your job, read Cyber-Safe Resume on Job-Hunt.org.]

Risky LinkedIn behavior:

  1. You announce that you are “seeking a new position as…” in your LinkedIn Profile or Group discussions.
  2. You upgrade your LinkedIn account to the Job Seeker level, and make the job seeker “badge” visible on your LinkedIn Profile.
  3. You publicly join a LinkedIn Group for job seekers.  If you do join the LinkedIn job search Groups (they can be very helpful), don’t make the Group logo visible on your Profile.
  4. You post your job search activities on a “public” job search-related LinkedIn Group. Unfortunately, the contents of public LinkedIn Groups are digested by search engines which means they can be found by employers doing a search; the postings in private Groups are not available to search engines.
  5. You join LinkedIn’s “Open Candidate.” LinkedIn does not promise that your employer (or someone working for your employer) won’t find you in Open Candidate.

Other risky social media behavior:

  1. You post announcements of your job search activities on Facebook (interviews, etc.), particularly dangerous if you have “friended” other employees or your boss.
  2. You send out a tweet announcing your desire to leave your current job.  (Twitter is great for job search, but not this way!)
  3. You announce your job search in the mailing list for your professional or business group.

Risky behavior at the office:

  1. You use your work telephone to discuss your job search with members of your network, recruiters, and other job-search-related contacts, where those discussions may be overheard.
  2. You put your work telephone number on your job resume, which means that …
  3. You use your work voicemail for your job search.
  4. You put your work email address on your resume, which means that…
  5. You use your work email account for your job search.
  6. You job search at work using your employer’s network and computer, visiting job boards, searching for jobs on Google, and leaving other electronic “tracks” demonstrating that you are job hunting.
  7. You work on your resume and other job search documents while at work using your work computer.
  8. You print your job search documents at work.
  9. You use the work copier machine to make copies of your job search documents.
  10. You use your work cell phone for your job search
  11. You add job search apps to your work cell phone or tablet computer.

Note that many of these risks apply when you are using your employer’s assets at home – your work cell phone or computer, your employer-paid-for home Internet connection, for example.  Your employer may still be able to monitor your activities and discover that you are job hunting.

In addition, be very, VERY careful discussing your intentions to find a new job with your work friends, even away from work.

Paranoia Is Appropriate

Yes, avoiding these activities may seem somewhat paranoid.  However, the reality is that it is much easier now than in the past for employers to discover that employees are job hunting – from monitoring employee use of the company’s equipment and networks to searching through job board resume databases for employee resumes.  Employer attitude about job seeking employees hasn’t change, but their access to the information about those employees has increased dramatically.

On the better-to-be-safe-than-sorry theory, follow these tips so you continue to earn that paycheck until you land your new job.  Avoid using your employer’s assets – computers, networks, printers, copiers, phones, and cell phones – for your job search.  Use personal contact information (telephone and/or cell phone number and email address) on your job search documents and in your communications about your job search.  Be subtle in your use of social media for your job search – raise your public visibility carefully and in support of your current job and employer.  Do your  job hunting privately.

More Information About  a Stealth Job Search – Job Hunting While Employed

Job Hunting While Employed – Very Dangerous!

Should You Quit Your Job? NO!

10 Steps to a Stealthy – and Successful – Job Search (Job-Hunt.org)

How to Protect Your Privacy in Your Job Search (Job-Hunt.org)

Cyber-Safe Resume (Job-Hunt.org)


© Copyright, 2013, Susan P. Joyce. All rights reserved.


About the author…

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been  observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 2011, NETability purchased WorkCoachCafe.com, which Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoach since then.  Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org.  Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on .


  1. Susan – I just wanted to share that I thought this was a great post. I recently was applying to law school while working my job but was afraid that disclosing my plans would negatively impact my bonus. Though not exactly the same situation I could definitely relate to many of these points, especially the feeling of paranoia!

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