In today's workforce, it's not uncommon to look for a new job while currently holding one. In fact, about 73 percent of employees don't have a problem searching for new employment before leaving their current firm, according to a survey released in July by the staffing firm Accountemps.
Such employees have the best of both worlds: They can test the job market waters in hopes of finding something better, while holding onto a job they may genuinely like. Andy Teach, author of "From Graduation to Corporation," says employed job seekers are in a good position. "If you don't get the job you're looking for, you can always fall back on your present job," he says.
Still, engaging in this job seeking practice could backfire. Even if you're universally liked in your office, the revelation of your job search could cause feelings of resentment, damage your reputation and possibly lead to your dismissal.
To ensure your search is both tactful and discreet, follow the steps below.
Maintain a positive attitude. It's natural that your enthusiasm for your current job may slip once you've decided to bolt, notes Patti Johnson, CEO and founder of PeopleResults, a Texas-based human resources firm. But don't wear that attitude on your sleeve. Continue to excel in your current position and diligently complete your work on time. Also, take on additional assignments, like mentoring a new co-worker, to prove that even in the midst of your departure, you've remained fully committed to the company. "You want to make sure that there's no visible sign that, internally, your heart's not in it," Johnson says.
Don't let your job search enter the office. Save your search time for your house or a local coffee shop. A snooping employer may catch on if you're using the company's email, phone line and/or fax to facilitate a job search. "You don't want to use any company materials to look for a job," Teach says. "Those obviously can be traced, and a lot of companies track Internet usage."
Plus, your search won't be productive when you're conducting it in a state of paranoia, according to Jaime Petkanics, a career advisor and founder of The Prepary, a website devoted to job search advice. "I think all aspects of the job search require focus, and if you're worried about someone coming by, or pausing to pick up a phone call, or complete a task, you're not going to give searching, résumé updating (or whatever else) the attention it deserves," Petkanics writes in an email.
Stay quiet on social media. While you may not directly interact with your boss and colleagues on social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, that doesn't mean they aren't viewing your profile. It's even easier for them to see your activity if you fail to activate your privacy settings or if you share mutual acquaintances who acknowledge your search through a post or tweet. "Even if you don't think people from work are in your networks, it's best not to post anything that indicates you're looking for a job on any social media outlets," Petkanics says.
Don't list your present employer on your references list. "If you're interviewing with another company, you want to let them know, 'Please don't contact my present employer,'" Teach says. Instead, fill your roster of references with previous employers. If you're determined to demonstrate success at your current job, direct hiring managers to a key recommendation or endorsement on your LinkedIn profile that you received from a boss or colleague.
Keep in line with the company dress code. Wearing a suit to an office that embraces business casual attire will only ignite suspicions on your job interview day. "If you dress informally, and one day you show up with a suit or tie, that's going to raise some red flags," Teach says. "You don't want to dress any differently than you normally would." Whether you're directly leaving work before the interview or returning after, find an offsite location where you can change. If time allows, return home or turn the backseat of your car into a dressing room.