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How to (Secretly) Find a New IT Job

Your career has evolved. You’ve acquired and honed a skill set that marks you have “arrived.” It also means it might be time to move onto bigger and better things.

And in a perfect world, looking for and segueing into another position outside our current place of employment would be sanctioned and encouraged. Sadly, in most circumstances, it is not. Nobody likes losing good talent — finding replacements is time-consuming and costly. Not to mention, not all hires work out.

Searching for that next rung of the ladder must be kept hidden, in which we can only indulge off the clock: lunches out, after work, or on days off. Thanks to our increasingly mobile world, the list can also include bathroom breaks for a quick peek at LinkedIn, Glassdoor, or Monster.

Here’s how you can keep your next job hunt more secretive.

Planning Your Transition

While career transitions can be a time of positive change and exhilaration, they can also be a time wracked with guilt. Depending on your bent, you may feel pangs of betrayal and abandonment. Some may escape these feelings. If so, run with it.

As mentioned above, maintain a sense that this is a positive move. You worked hard to get the point that you can make moves upward. Your personal interests and well-being are paramount, which is the only logical perspective if success is your goal. Hold this in your mind. You are more likely to effect a positive, well-positioned, and lucrative transition.

The harsh reality of the marketplace is that your company’s best interests and your best interest may at some point diverge. Your loyalty to them only goes as far as they are aligned. That’s normal — it’s just business. The average worker may express loyalty to the company.

Ultimately, loyalty to themselves will and should prevail. The manager is concerned about finding and training a replacement, affecting his departmental budget. The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts a median price tag of $150,000 to hire and train a new IT professional. It isn’t that they don’t understand your decision. They do. It’s that your departure and the aftereffects reflect heavily on them. Your co-workers are affected, too. They will have to fill the void, and then integrate a new face into the team.

There is nothing you can do about the effects of your decision. Accept these realities. Express regret at the proper time, if appropriate — then refocus on you.

The Hunt

For the above reasons, it is in everyone’s best interest to prosecute your transition with as minimal an impact as possible. Once you accept that some level of stealth is required to preserve the dignity and respect of the company and your coworkers, you’ll need to plan carefully and avoid behaviors that could out your job hunt.

Many employers still hold onto the archaic notion that a job-seeking employee is disloyal, distracted, or a threat to proprietary company assets. This attitude can result in behavior that is devastating to your transition. Plan wisely.

Here are a few examples of other activity that could out yourself:

  • You revamp Your LinkedIn Profile
  • You turn on LinkedIn Premium for Job Seekers (they can see that)
  • Performance issues
  • Leaving a job board up on a monitor and walking away (On a company asset)
  • You didn’t check the box to not connect your current employer on your application

It goes without saying that you should never use company assets in your search. It’s tempting to jump on the latest opening. However, most companies have policies regarding personal use during work hours, so weigh the risks. Remember that a sent email or even a résumé printed on a company printer can be discovered.

In the now-rare event that you’re printing resumes, it’s more likely a coworker will return it to you with a wink. However, it is a company asset. If your boss finds it, that may color any statement they make to a prospective employer. Maybe it won’t be a big deal. Use your best judgment. Wanting to move as quickly as possible is understandable. But forward the latest openings to your home email—from your mobile device—and act on them there.

The Interview

Once your hunt starts to bear fruit, you’ll need to get away from your current workplace at some point to interview. Very likely, this will happen multiple times. Depending on your work environment, this may or may not be a big deal. Dentist and doctor appointments are the obvious choice. They’re also obvious to those around you, especially if you breeze in afterward looking like you’re going to the Oscars.

Workplace philosophies regarding the rights of employees to pursue their careers have improved. This is not true across the board, so you’ll have to decide how Jason Bourne you need to be. If you’re in a help desk environment, time away from the headset is sometimes hard to come by, and time out of the office must be coordinated. Depending on the time of the interview, you’ll probably need to invent a dental condition or a family necessity. But, if you’re in a professional environment, time away shouldn’t be a big deal.

Vacation and PTO are tailor-made for scheduling interviews. Vacation certainly isn’t as flexible, but it is certainly a possibility. Yes, it won’t be exciting as an actual vacation, but the gains are certainly worth the investment. PTO is much more flexible, and many offices follow a work/life balance policy, allowing you to do what you will as long as you reach your objectives.

Remember, too, that there is typically some wiggle room with interview schedules. If you feel it is warranted, don’t hesitate to suggest an alternate day and time. Just don’t be pushy.

The Transition

Don’t burn bridges. You’ve heard that before, and this is one of those cases in life where it definitely applies. What if the new position is a bust? It happens, and more often than you might think. Then you’re on the hunt again.

No matter how bad it was at the company you’re leaving, avoid the urge to tell anyone—especially your boss—off. It may feel good at the moment, but their animus is a land mine that you will discover at the least suitable time.

The ambition to grow your career is something to be proud of. Go for it. Be fruitful. But also exercise a little caution.


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