14 Keys to Keeping Your Job Search Confidential

confidentialEnsure your boss doesn’t learn about your job search until you’re ready to disclose it by paying attention to these key actions:

  1. Keep your own confidence. To conduct an effective job search, you will need to talk with people about it. However, you can let them know the information is confidential. Be especially careful about telling anyone at work who might accidentally let your secret out or consider you a disloyal employee.
  2. Tell recruiters your search is confidential. Ask recruiters to inform you before they submit you to a company as a candidate. The recruiter may not have important information, such as your boss being friends with that company’s CEO.
  3. Ask your prospective employer to keep your job search in confidence. Most people take this for granted – and shouldn’t. If your secret isn’t kept, you have just learned a great deal of information about that company.
  4. Develop a confidential version of your resume. Replace your name with “Confidential Candidate” at the top. Create and use a generic Gmail account that doesn’t include your name or any other information that identifies you. Remove your contact information except for your generic email address and personal cell phone number. Remove company and university names and dates from the experience and education sections. Remove your name from the file name and the Properties box in Microsoft Word.
  5. Maintain or expand your efforts and work style while you conduct your job search. Companies want an employee committed to their job, not their job search.
  6. Pass up job fairs. Your company may not be listed as a participant, but your boss or a colleague might be there scouting for candidates. Some job fairs collect resumes and distribute them to all participating companies who can then use the list to identify current employees looking for new jobs.
  7. Don’t respond to “blind ads” in which the name of the company is not given. More than one jobseeker has applied for “the perfect job” only to find it was their own job being advertised!
  8. Conduct your search from home. Don’t use your company time, phone, computer, wi-fi, or email address for your job search. Don’t store, print, or copy your resume on your work computer. Don’t use current colleagues or management as references.
  9. If you’re going to apply online, apply directly on the company web site. Don’t post your resume online. It may be found by someone at your current company, and resumes posted publicly stay out there forever.
  10. Schedule interviews on your day off, before work, during lunch, or after work rather than during regular work hours.
  11. Keep your social media posts personal. Don’t post about your job search or being dissatisfied with your job no matter how secure you think your privacy settings are.
  12. If you don’t characteristically attend lots of networking events, start gradually. If you do attend, volunteer to help at the registration desk. It’s a good way to meet everyone without looking like you’re trying to meet everyone.
  13. If your boss confronts you about your job search, own up to it. Be honest, use the opportunity to talk about what you want, and re-double your job search efforts.
  14. Seek to be found. Look for opportunities to write, speak, volunteer, and advise. Make sure you have a complete and attractive LinkedIn profile. Connect with the right people, and opportunities will find you.


4 thoughts on “14 Keys to Keeping Your Job Search Confidential”

  1. Good article but I do not agree to point 4 With the job market where it is and each recruiter has 3 to 6 second to scan the CV , he will not entertain a “Confidential Candidate” as he has to think for way too many variable, ie the candidate is legit, it is not a prack, what is he hiding, why is he hiding, if he is doing this now what will he do in next job, will he take interviews, how will he take interview, where will he take interviews …I think not a good idea

    1. Hi Asghar,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Most candidates do not have the luxury of positive employer support for their job search. In fact, many understand that they will be terminated if their employer discovers their intention. They need to protect themselves as much as possible. Will a confidential resume limit their acceptance by recruiters? Possibly. If I were a job seeker in this position, I would take the gamble of the confidential resume over the gamble of my boss learning of my search.

      In addition, not every resume goes to a recruiter. If the resume is well written, it will capture the reader’s attention and give legitimacy to the candidate’s cause.

      The New Hire blog cited has to do with employers using blind ads to recruit employees. That is a different issue from a candidate’s confidential search.

      I appreciate your concern. Best wishes for your career. Happy Holidays!

  2. Say, you have an on site iInterview that requires you to take a day or two off. With the interview being in the middle of the week. How do you approach your current manager about needing time off and they may find requesting a random weekday off a bit suspicious?

  3. David Gerard Mazary

    I know the hiring manager and he knows of my work. We do not have occasion to socialize after work.
    My co-worker is very close to the hiring manager at this new company where I want to apply. My co-worker socializes with this hiring manager after work.
    How to I apply for the job with the hiring manager and avoid repercussions with my co-worker and keep my co-worker from ratting on my current employer that I am job seeking?

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