Ask the Coach #8: How To Do An Undercover Job Search?

March 5th, 2018

This is part of a series. You can see the others here, at the Ask The Coach category.

K asks “How do you keep your current employer from finding out about your current job search?

This is a great question… you don’t want to look for something and then have your employer find out and let you go… ouch. Just because you are looking doesn’t mean you are leaving, right? Sometimes, even a toxicish boss is better than no paycheck. (SOMETIMES)

Here are the coach replies:

atc_headshot_denise_taylor_125Denise Taylor, Career Coach, Chief Inspiration Officer, the 50 Plus Coach

Looking for a new job when you are employed can make you feel like an undercover agent, needing to cover your tracks. Here are 7 tips:

  1. An effective way of finding another job is using LinkedIn, so make sure that any updates are not shared to your network. You don’t want your boss, or noisy colleagues noticing that you have finally got around to polishing your profile.
  2. If you may be going for interviews during a work day make sure that you don’t dress noticeably different for work. You may need to change outside of the office or to start dressing smart each day, and if you use public transfer this will be your best approach.
  3. Be careful who you share your plans to look elsewhere with at work. A colleague could use this against you and tell your boss, meaning that you aren’t considered for an interesting short-term assignment.
  4. Keep any changes to your CV/resume and any applications to your home computer. You never know who could look at your screen and see your edits, and you want this information well away from shared servers. You can keep copies in the cloud, so you have access to send on during the day when you want to make a fast response.
  5. When you post your CV/resume on job sites you can take your company name off and use a generic description instead.
  6. Make sure you use a personal and not your work email address, it’s more professional.
  7. Interviews may be arranged for after work, but not always, so what will you tell your boss? You can’t go to the dentist every week, but there are somethings that warrant a weekly appointment such as visiting the chiropractor.

atc_headshot_patti_romanowicz_125Patti Romanowicz, career consultant and job search specialist

First and foremost, don’t do job search activities at work! This includes your resume, cover letters, online job searching, phone interviews, etc. Prospective job calls should be taken only on your cell phone, outside of work hours or on breaks or lunch when you can have some private time. Your car is a great place to have these calls, even better if it’s not in your company’s parking lot.

People have asked about LinkedIn. If you are linked to coworkers or your boss, it’s best not to bring attention to the fact you are making changes to your profile. Best advice I can give is make minor changes over time, so you are updating, but nothing major all at once.

gavan_headshot_atcGavan Ambrosini, PCCCareer Management Consultant

Looking for a job while still working can be a tricky business. Maintaining a game face with your current employer while applying elsewhere can be stressful and uncomfortable, especially if you are torn between staying or going. Here are a few tips to keep your search under wraps: If possible, set your interviews for early mornings or late afternoons. If it is an in person interview that requires more than a few hours–take the day or a half day off. Try not to call in sick to interview if you can help it. I recommend you reference your absence as time off needed to take care of personal business and nothing more.

Don’t share your plans to move on with anyone in the office, unless you completely trust them to not let on what you are doing. You may need a reference, and you don’t want to blindside important referrals if you feel like you are getting close to making a move. There are 3 possible scenarios to consider should your employer finds out that you are moving on: They care, and don’t want to lose you–they don’t care and will be happy to see you go, or they care, but also understand that you need to grow and it is not possible where you are at. If they it is the former where they don’t want you to leave, they make take measures to keep you-such as ask for a meeting, offer you a promotion or even a raise. If there are things that would keep you there, it might be worth it to let it slip out that you are looking. Otherwise, best bet is to put your feelers out, but keep it close to the chest.

You can turn on your recruiter button on LinkedIn to let them know you are open to opportunities, as well as start posting more on LinkedIn to keep your activity high. This will allow you to be found by others easier and remain on people’s radar. You will also show up more in other people’s feeds, and come up sooner in searches. Whatever, you do, treat your current employer as you would a customer, with respect and professionalism. You don’t want to damage the relationship or sever ties with them. Besides possibly needing them for a reference, you never know, they may be your customer one day. Good luck!

atc_3_headshot_rich_grant_125Rich Grant, Online career course instructor for Peak-Careers

If you don’t want your boss to know about your job search, I’m sure you’re being discreet around the office, and your LinkedIn headline doesn’t say “looking for a new job.” But, be careful about others, as they might not have the same level of discretion. Someone at work who knows you’re looking might say something at the wrong time and the wrong place, or someone you’re connected to on social media might tag you in a post or a tweet about a new opportunity. Keep your eyes open on all your social media sites.

If you’ve posted your resume on job sites, don’t list your current employer by name but by describing the industry. For example, “online retailer in the home furnishings industry.” Use your personal information (phone, email) and not your office contact details.

Some people think that they need to put a halt on social media activity during a “stealth” job search, but I would advise the opposite. Networking is a critically important key to job-search success, and the advantage with social media is that you can participate any time of day or night. Put yourself out there as an expert in your career field, and as you build professional relationships online, reach out via private messaging to let people know what you’re looking to do next in your career.

atc_3_headshot_perry_newman_125Perry Newman, Award Winning Resume Writer & LinkedIn Transformation Specialist, Certified Social Media Strategist, Certified Personnel Consultant

If you want to keep your current employer from finding out about your current job search, I suggest you take the following two thoughts to heart. 1. Loose lips sink ships 2. Use common sense and remember a word closely identified with a job search is Confidential. Keep yours that way at all times. Here are 15 useful suggestions to follow and, I can think of at least 50 more.

  1. Don’t ever talk about your job search on your employer’s phone. They may check your phone log and see whom you called or who called you more than once. This means their landline and even a company cellular phone.
  2. Don’t talk with the people you work with about your job search in public at work. You never know whose listening.
  3. Avoid talking gossip about others in the office. People have long memories and can be vengeful and start rumors about you.
  4. Don’t send or receive emails about your job search on your employer’s computer, even with your private email account.
  5. Don’t use your company computer to search for job opening online.
  6. Don’t apply for a job online from your company computer.
  7. Don’t email your resume to a recruiter or employer from your work email.
  8. Don’t use your work email as contact email on your resume. (Don’t laugh, I see this all too often)
  9. Don’t sign up for resume blasts, they may inadvertently blast it to someone in your company or a sister company, or someone who knows your boss.
  10. Keep focused on doing your job as well or better than expected from you. Lower performance is a red flag for most employers that you’re looking or unhappy in your current job.
  11. Don’t suddenly and drastically upgrade and/or change your appearance all at once. If you do change, make it gradual and not only when you take time off from work or have a lunch hour interview.
  12. Make interviews whenever possible outside of business hours and take the whole day off if it is going to be more than a lunch hour meeting. (See # 11)
  13. Don’t talk about your job search openly on social media.
  14. Don’t tell a verifiable lie if confronted about absence from work by HR or a superior at work.
  15. This is a curve ball for you. DON’T be afraid to update and upgrade your LinkedIn profile if you are conducting a job search. If confronted why you made this move the answer is. “I was told by many people that the best way to get ahead in your current company is to have a great LinkedIn profile so your employer knows how valuable you are. I’m glad you or someone in the company took notice of the change because, I really want to be looked at favorably and get a promotion or raise based on may contributions.”

atc_3_headshot_ron_auerbach_125Ronald Auerbach, Job search author, expert, and educator

There are several ways to hide your job search activities from your current employer. One is to not use company resources, like their computer, phone, or Internet access. FYI, this includes using your own device but connecting through the company’s WiFi or network. Your goal here is not to leave traces of your job seeking activities. So do everything outside of work! Job search on your time and resources, not the company’s.

Another thing you can do is not tell people at work you’re job hunting. Even when you tell people you know very well and trust completely, there is always a risk that word may slip out of your looking for employment. Trust me, it’s happened many times! And in most cases, it’s purely by accident through idle gossip and talk or somebody just forgetting to keep it a secret. So do yourself a favor and keep your job search under wraps.

One more thing you can do is make it clear to everyone you’re contacting that you do not want your current employer to find out. So make sure you tell recruiters, employment agencies, contacts (network), etc that you want your job search to be kept quiet so your boss and company doesn’t find out. And it’s perfectly understandable why you won’t want your current employer to find out, so you’re not appearing as if you’re hiding anything or in trouble. It’s a given that we want to remain anonymous so we won’t lose our jobs ahead of our finding something else.

Another thing you can do is have limited information in your profiles and resumes. So with online resumes and profiles, you may not want to use your full name. For instance, instead of Henry Miller, you could use H. Miller or Henry M. or H.M. You could also hide the company name for your current employer and use something that describes what kind of company it is. For example, instead of saying you work at Citibank, you could list something like Financial Institution. Some will also change their job titles from say VP Manufacturing, to VP or Executive or Senior Manager. Your goal with these is to hide more specifics that lead back to you should your employer find it.

atc_3_headshot_elvabankinsbaxter_125Elva Bankins Baxter, Certified Master Coach

Here are 6 Ways to keep your current Employer From Finding Out About your Job Search:

  • Use a personal email address only for your job seeking activities and correspondence. Remember, your employer has access to your work email server and they can and oftentimes will read your emails…As a Career Coach, I have heard from many decision makers that they already know that someone is “looking” because they have read their emails.
  • If you have a company cell phone, only use it for business. Yes, this means that you will carry two cell phones. It is wise to keep a backup of your business and personal contacts on your personal phone. In the event the unthinkable happens and you are separated from the company involuntarily, you will not have lost your business and personal connections.
  • Regarding your LinkedIn profile, the changes you make to LinkedIn should be very subtle. First, change your “Settings” so that you turn off notifying everyone of any Profile changes that you will be making. If you feel a need to increase the number of your Connections, do so very slowly…For example, this is not the time to add more than 4 or 5 people to your network at once. And, do not alert search/recruiting professionals that you are seeking opportunities (a feature within LinkedIn).

Regarding Search Consultants or Recruiters:

  • If you are asked by a Search Consultant to connect on LinkedIn…refrain from doing so. And, if you’d like to connect to a search professional, send an email from your personal email server, via LinkedIn or call them directly. Do not connect to them on LinkedIn.
  • If a recruiter or search consultant calls you on your work phone and wants to discuss an opportunity, get their contact information and tell them that you are not interested in seeking new opportunities currently, however, should that change, you may reach out to them in the future. The point here is that you may not know who directed this recruiter to contact you. It could be someone at work who wants to see if you are searching for a new position.
  • Be mindful of the number of times you are out of the office for those alleged doctor/dentist appointments or start to take longer than usual lunches. Most businesses will meet you to maintain confidentiality and meet after hours if necessary.
  • Be aware of your behavior as you work on teams or with your leader or cross-functionally. You want to instill an enthusiastic spirit and not let your true emotions surface. Transparency is important, now more than ever.

jacque-barret-poindexter-atcJacqui Barrett-Poindexter
, CEO, Master Resume Writer

Do not conduct job search using company technology; for example, avoid sending job search emails through your company email address or through the company computer, for that matter.

  • Set up a separate email (gmail) address for job search.
  • Do not save your resume on the company computer.
  • If a recruiter or hiring decision maker calls you while at work, either let it roll into voice mail and call them back later or, if you answer, explain that you are work and would like to schedule time after hours for a conversation. (Note: Ensure sure your voice mail is professional, and that you regularly check it for messages.)

Do not schedule interviews on company time. Work with hiring managers, HR + recruiters to schedule interviews during lunch hours, after work hours, etc. to be respectful of your current employer’s time.

When refreshing professional profiles, such as LinkedIn, market your value in a way that comes across as a blended strategy: marketing your current organization while also touting your own achievements.

Avoid sharing your job search efforts with colleagues, no matter how much you trust them. One slip of their tongue and your current role will be at risk. You don’t want to be unemployed before you have a new role in hand.

Avoid sharing your job search efforts on Facebook or any other presumable “private” social channel. 100% privacy is NEVER guaranteed on social media.

When asked for recommendations during interviews, seek support from former bosses, colleagues, clients, vendors etc. to avoid alerting your current manager that you are job hunting.

There you go, lots of great advice to help you in your undercover job search! Thanks coaches!

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Dick Bolles Videos

April 5th, 2017

Yesterday I wrote about Dick Bolles, and said it’s “the end of a legacy.” Perhaps I should have written “the end of a legend.” Or, the next chapter of a legend.

From the comments on yesterday’s post, and throughout the internet, it’s clear that this man was the father of the modern job search, and that he impacted many, many people. Great tributes have been written about him.

I found a 32 minute video when he was at Google, doing a presentation titled “How to decide what you’ll be doing five years from now.”  Check it out here.

Years ago, when I was doing the Ask the Expert interviews, Dick graciously agreed to be a guest on my show.  You can watch it below… but if you do, you’ll notice the first 20 minutes I was flying solo.

That was not planned.

Here’s what happened: I had been in touch with Dick, the consummate professional, about being on my show. He readily agreed, and I didn’t want to hound him with reminders. I was very sensitive about giving him enough information without him feeling like I was harassing him.  I was sure that he would come, be on time, etc. After all, he had probably done this a gazillion times.

So I started the webinar and had a great audience. Questions were coming in for him, and you could feel the excitement build.  But Dick wasn’t there yet.

I emailed him, I even called him… but nothing.  No response.

I remembered that he was in his mid-t0-late eighties, and I worried that perhaps he had…. passed away.  This was about four years ago… I think he was 86 or 87.  Was my show going to be the way that everyone knew he had passed away?

I hoped not. I wanted to interview him, and learn from him!

For twenty minutes I ad-libbed, I sweated, I worried, and I wondered.  That was a LONG twenty minutes.

Then, thank goodness, Dick joined the call.  He was apologetic, and I was relieved!  He was ALIVE!

He said he was late because he stayed up all night working, on deadline, on the next version of his book, which was due the morning of our call.   He fell asleep at his desk (that made for an interesting visual), and just barely woke up.

Did I say I was relieved?  Not for me, nor for the interview, but that Dick Bolles was okay!

Here’s the interview… I was amazed that he brought new-to-me information and ideas.

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Juan: “If you are looking for ‘any’ job, then…”

October 27th, 2016

I am going through an awesome video interview I had with David Perry, author of Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters, and in our discussion a job coach named Juan says:

“I tell my guys that if they are looking for ‘any’ job, then they aren’t really looking.”

I totally agree.

“Can you help me find a job?”

“What are you looking for?”

“Anything, really. Anywhere.”

This means, NOTHING.  I’m looking for NOTHING.  I’m not even in a job search!

When I first started JibberJobber, many people I talked to would say “how can I help you?”  They sincerely wanted to help, and would have.  My pathetic answer was “I have no idea…!”

And so no one helped me with what I needed, because I couldn’t communicate what I needed.

“What do you want for dinner?”

“Anything.  Except… whatever you are going to suggest to me in the next few minutes.”

If you know what you are looking for, you can do a targeted job search. Your network contacts will know who to introduce you to, and how to help you.

Don’t look for any job… figure out what you are looking for, and then go after it.



Introducing, Closed Captioning Coming to JibberJobber Videos!

October 14th, 2016

For the last couple of months I’ve been working on a ginormous project… and one of the fruits of that project is to bring closed captioning to my videos.  I went through a learning curve, then the in-the-trenches work of getting my video transcribed and formatted for closed captioning… and then figuring out how to get all that in the right format so that video players will be able to take the transcription and put the words in the right place.

This was not a quick project.  But I love what it has produced.

Check out this two year old interview I did with senior technical recruiter Robert Merrill… it was a fun interview, and going through it word-by-word reminded me of how many awesome nuggets of wisdom Robert shared with us… all of which are still relevant to today’s job search.

To see the captions, simply click the cc button, between the volume control and the HD option.  Listen to this, read this, and tell me this isn’t a GREAT interview!

Here’s the first time I posted this video, two years ago!

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Ask The Experts: David Safeer

March 2nd, 2015

david_safeer_headshot_mediumDavid Safeer is not a career coach or career professional. He is a professional who started using JibberJobber a few years ago.  I’ve emailed him a number of times over the years and always found him to be really nice, and from his LinkedIn Profile, I can tell he is quite accomplished.

In this hour+ conversation, we talked about a bunch of things, and there were some big AHA! moments for me.  Here are some of my notes with times… enjoy!

0:00 — introduction

3:00 – who is David Safeer… his background and professional career
6:00 topic of branding, and rebranding… at a corporate and a personal level
8:20 personal rebranding: “it’s one of the mot difficult things that I have had to do…”
9:45 on getting laid off and shifting directions
10:30 on becoming a freelancer or business owner
12:20 the reality of entrepreneurship – it is freaking scary, and it is really hard!
13:20 pausing and figuring out what you really want to do (instead of panicking in the job search)
14:10 “I didn’t have the confidence in myself”… what should I charge, etc.
16:00 on starting his own business – a lot of work, thought, etc.
18:20 what happened to his company when the recession hit :(
19:45 during this process, he learned about JibberJobber (through a network contact)
20:30 on closing a business right, or wrong… and learning from it
22:00 the emotions of closing a business, starting a job search…. where was David at? “The toughest couple of years of my life, emotionally.”
24:10 – how to get through very difficult emotional times in the job search (value of a coach — this is awesome!)
25:00 is it worth it to hire a coach?  Especially when money is so tight?
25:30 BNI – networking groups… great advice
26:20 – “anyone who doesn’t know how to network, should learn how to!”
26:35 “Capital N Networker”
27:30 “I dont’ remember his name, but I’m going to get on JibberJobber and find him!”
27:50 Tree View “Absolutely amazing”
29:40 “networking forced me out of the house….”
29:45 what do you do at a one-to-one meeting?  Lunch…?  But then what?!
30:45 could you be a Capital N Networker?
31:40 having connections on LinkedIn vs having relationships with people and where he is at on the Quantity vs. Quality debate…
32:00 going to network meetings… are we being effective, or is this superficial??
33:30 network meetings – are they fun, or are they stressful?
35:30 his trick when entering a network meeting….
36:00 how I feel about networking at conferences… (you guys aren’t alone!)
36:30 when networking gets fun and rewarding
38:10 what is a third degree contact… and how is it different in JibberJobber than a social network?  And how and why this impacts the tree view.
39:50 figuring out who to thank for your clients, leads, etc.
40:30 how to thank people who introduced you to contacts
41:00 put BNI in as a contact, so he could track everyone he met through an organization (I would recommend using Tags for that instead of associating to a Company)
42:00 FASCINATING discussion of how to rank people based on (a) do you know people, and (b)  will you make those introductions— not for measuring personal relationships, or if they are a good person.  This is something he did about 18 months ago… “it was emotionally difficult to me to move someone down from a five star to a three).
43:40 “I had to network UP and ACROSS” – very cool and insightful “that’s when I started making real progress”
44:35 “you need to figure out who are the right people to network with”
45:20 he defines what a five star is (this is BRILLIANT!)
46:45 would you ever have lunch with a 2 star contact? Yes, absolutely… (find out why)
48:00 this new ranking system has “made a huge shift in my productivity”
48:15 using a “cookbook methodology” (or a system)
50:00 “having the RIGHT conversations with the RIGHT people.”
52:00 “it’s really tough to put a friend in a 1 or a 2” but he’s using ranking not as “how strong is my relationship with that person”
57:00 are you using Email2Log?  Surprisingly, no.l  Why?  Listen here …
59:20 if your audience doesn’t “get it,” is it their fault or your fault?  Chastisement from my business coach
62:00ish final thoughts and advice
65:00 Functional Resume WOW!  Everyone says to stay away from functional resumes… but he says they are valuable!  This is really insightful!
66:20ish – is Functional Resume for everybody? Perhaps not… !
67:35 on finding target companies, and why that didn’t work for him (at an executive level)
68:15 “networking is by far the most effective way to do this”


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Kicking Off The New Year with Your Career (Video)

January 30th, 2015

A couple of years ago I was my own guest on my Ask The Expert call.  All of these are free.  You can watch this January 2013 recording below.  To see this full screen, simply click the little icon by the volume which will make it full screen.

AskTheExpert Jason Alba Jan2013 Vimeo from Jason Alba on Vimeo.

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Ask The Experts: Who Do You Want To Hear From?

October 24th, 2014

The monthly Ask The Experts calls were some of the funnest interviews I’ve done since I started JibberJobber.  Below is a list of past interviews – I know there is an overabundance of information coming your way, but I strongly suggest you add these recordings to your schedule. There are a ton of great ideas, suggestions and perspectives that can help you in job search and career management.

My question to you is: WHO do you think I should interview next?

It’s time to start up the next round… and I want to hear from YOU who I should invite to be on the show.  Leave a comment with names and the “why,” or shoot me an email (which is on the Contact Us page (or just use the Contact Us form)) with suggestions.

Here are past interviews:

Fred Coon: Stewart Cooper Coon Outplacement

Robert Merrill: Internal Tech Recruiter

The Recruiting Animal

Dan Schawbel: Personal Branding and Millenials

Mark LeBlanc: Business Growth Coach

Dave Perry: Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters

Jack Chapman: Salary Negotiation

Jason Alba: 51 Alternatives to a Real Job

Dick Bolles: What Color Is Your Parachute

Nick Corcodilos: Ask The Headhunter

Tim Tyrell-Smith: Tim’s Strategy

Jason Alba: CEO of JibberJobber

Karen Huller: Resume Writer and Career Coach

Charlotte Weeks: Weeks Career Services

Jon Sosa: Aries Career Development

Kim Mohuiddin: Movin’ On Up Resumes




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Ask The Expert: Fred Coon, Outplacement and Job Search Expert

April 25th, 2014

My call with Fred Coon was awesome.  There were a lot of gems throughout this call.  I have two regrets:

  1. We didn’t have more time.  It seems like Fred just skimmed the surface on an 8-step plan… I think we could have talked for hours more.  BUT, what he was able to share in 90 minutes was a great foundation for anyone.
  2. I asked Fred, impromptu, to provide a little banjo music in the back while I wrapped it up.   He did, I wrapped up, and I mistakenly stopped the recording when I was done instead of when he was done.  I’ve never been banjo’d before… it was very cool :)

Below is our conversation.  I encourage you to take notes, and if you want, let us know what impacted you most, and the minute mark of that impactful moment, so we can get to it easier.

Enjoy!  (vimeo provides a full screen option comes on after you click play, but there is no visual… you can put this on while you do something else (like take notes?))

See past Ask The Expert recordings here.

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Fred Coon: Ask The Expert, April 22

April 10th, 2014

On April 22, we’ll have Fred Coon as our Ask The Expert guest.  Fred owns Stewart, Cooper, Coon, an outplacement firm based out of Arizona, with clients world-wide.

Over the years I’ve chatted with Fred at conferences, over meals, on a bus, and on the phone.  Fred is a great thinker, very astute, and continually looking for strategies and tactics that work.  Just as important, he puts all of these things together to create plans for his job seeking clients and tracks their progress, and overall success, so he can further refine his systems and do more of what works and less of what doesn’t work.

In this Ask The Expert we’ll drill down into some of his systems, ideas, strategies, and experience, to learn from someone who not only has been doing this for a long time, but is always looking out on the horizon to make sure what he is doing is the best.

Register here:

fred_coon_largeHeres’ a link to one of Fred’s books, Ready… Aim… Hired!

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Ask The Expert (ATE): Robert Merrill, Internal Recruiter, Sr. Tech Recruiter

March 5th, 2014

This call was AWESOME. Off the charts. Seriously. There is so much good information in this call that it should be required to listen to.

I’m sure there are recruiters who do things differently. That’s one of the challenges that job seekers face: there is no single right or best answer for the situations we face (like, working with recruiters). Robert gives us a great look into the processes and systems that we need to know about. You can tell he has a heart for job seekers. Enjoy:

Note: This is hosted on Vimeo.  To make full-size, push play and then on the bottom right click the icon that looks like this:


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