So, you currently have a job but are looking for something a little better. You are getting tired, tense and maybe a little stressed. This is a dangerous time: the time when job seekers can go wild and make key mistakes. So how do you avoid tripping over those pesky landmines—you know, your bosses, coworkers, and current clients—and still conduct an effective job search?
Here are some of the risky situations you’ll want to tiptoe through so your job search doesn’t blow up in your face:
Landmine #1: Wow, I did it again! Done, fire, THEN I love that email
You did all the right things: you prepared a bespoke cover letter, put together a great resume, and found the right contact, Bill Smithers at “World’s Best Company, Inc.” Now all you have to do is press Submit. So you do it, hit send, that’s it. So far so good. Okay, next target. Mrs. Jane Topboss in “Dream Company Corporation”. Let’s see… type the email address… browse… attach the file… and… send. oops! I think I sent Bill Smithers’ cover letter and resume to Jane Topboss.
Avoid this landmine by taking your time and making sure you have reviewed and attached the correct files to the correct email. One surefire way to blow up your job search is to rush in and mistakenly send the right email to the wrong person or the wrong email to the right person. Please do not send ANY job search-related email from your current place of employment. Send all those emails outside of work. Take the time to make sure the right email gets to the right person, THEN hit the Send button.
Landmine #2: Getting Potential Employers to Call You at Your Current Place of Work
Jennifer Jobseeker had it all figured out. Since she was at work during business hours, it only made sense to include her work number as her contact number for potential employers. “Why burn my cell phone minutes and have to keep checking the machine at home?” She thought to herself. Ah, poor innocent Jennifer, totally unaware of the dangerous danger she was about to unleash with the brand new patent leather Woodberry loafers she had just bought as part of her job interview attire. “After all, I can take all the incoming calls, screen them, and if it’s an interview call, just walk across that bridge when I get there.” Then something went terribly wrong. Jennifer took a 15-minute break and that’s when she called Mr. Murphy, the hiring manager. A coworker took the call, asked if she could take a message, and was surprised to learn that Jennifer had an interview scheduled for 11:00 am the next day. Guess what the co-worker did with this information…you got it: the news spread around the office faster than Simon humiliating someone on American Idol and Jane was left completely without her new loafers (metaphorically) and her current job (literally). ).
Use common sense when providing your contact information to potential employers. Never, ever, ever, ever use your current work phone number as a point of contact. Pass out your home or cell phone number to potential hires and let them know that if they get their voicemail, you’ll call them back as soon as you can, they’ll understand. Two other things to note here: 1) Make sure your voicemail message is professional and not overly corny, rude, or profane; 2) Never, never, never, NEVER, NEVER call them from their office number; if he does, he will suffer Jennifer’s fate.
Landmine #3: Using your current company’s intranet or Internet access to search for jobs and interview
This should be a no-brainer. In most companies, every keystroke you make on your company computer is logged and potentially traceable. Many IT departments now flag certain keywords and phrases and automatically create reports detailing who is doing what with their laptops and desktops. These reports are then passed to management for review. Most likely, you signed a computer use policy when you joined the company. And guess what? In addition to requiring that you can’t play games, view inappropriate sites, or conduct business outside of what your company is doing, there’s likely to be a clause about using company property for private purposes or for profit. And unless you’re going to include your current employer in the job search with you, you definitely don’t want to violate this clause.
Landmine #4: Don’t slack off in your current job
Although you may have STA (short timer attitude), it’s a good idea not to let it show. Keep doing the best job you can. Yes, it will be difficult. Yes, it will seem useless; after all, you are looking for a new place to work. And yes, you will need to keep supporting what you may think are mundane tasks and training co-workers and clients soon. But keep in mind that you are being watched. Both cubicles and hard walls have ears and eyes and see and hear everything. If you change your behavior even a little bit, your co-workers and your boss will likely notice. It is important to remember something here. Most bosses don’t get to be bosses because they’re dumb. Most bosses get to be bosses because they are continually watching events around them and looking for ways to keep things running smoothly. Your boss will know something is up if you’re slacking off. Whether you like and respect your current boss or not, you are obligated to serve him or her, the company, your co-workers and your customers while on the payroll. And it is correct. You’ll feel better in the long run if you do the right thing.
Make a commitment to yourself to continue to put in the time and effort needed for those who pay you. Remember, you’re the one looking for a job, so it’s up to you to figure out how to balance your current employment situation with your job search efforts.
Landmine #5: Attend a job or career fair that includes a booth for your current company
Let’s face it, you can often find great job opportunities through a job or career fair. These events attract a large and diverse group of employers looking for qualified candidates like you. So, being the entrepreneur that you are, schedule a vacation day in advance (very elegant) so you can attend the job/career fair without feeling guilty. You shine your shoes, dust off that business suit, brush your teeth, comb your hair, run through a few interview questions in your head, print out a dozen résumés, and head to the event. You are prepared, you are confident and you are going to find the next best job! After all, you don’t call yourself Cory the Career Conqueror for nothing.
Imagine your surprise, complete with that “I just got punched in the stomach” feeling, when the first booth inside the door is YOUR company’s booth manned by a couple of familiar co-workers and a person or two from your Human Resources department. “Why Cory, what are you doing here?” the HR administrative assistant asks, as four pairs of eyes stare at you like an evil demon guarding the secret passageway in the latest Play Station game.
Career and job fairs are great, just make sure you know which companies are going to be represented there, and if yours is, you may want to reconsider attending.
Landmine #6: Listing your boss or current co-workers as references while running a stealth job search campaign
Consider the following from the script for the movie “Nightmare on Just Lost My Job Street”:
Scene 1: Christina is having a terrible nightmare (dissolves…fades into dream sequence…phone rings…)
“Hello Mr. Jones. My name is Megan Hiringpro at XYZ, Inc. Just a quick question if you don’t mind. Do you have Christina CareerChanger working for you?”
“Why yes, Mrs. Hiringpro. Why do you ask?”
“Oh, don’t you know? Christina has listed you as one of her references and we’re thinking of inviting her for an interview, but first we’d like some feedback from you.”
Christina wakes up in a cold sweat and realizes that she has fallen asleep at her desk. “Wow, thank God it was just a dream” she thinks with relief. (Disappear…)
Scene 2: As Christina pops a thin strip of fresh mint into her mouth, her boss, Mr. Jones, stops by his bucket (close-up of Christina as Mr. Jones asks)
“Christina, can I see you in my office for a moment?”
Christina, now realizing that it wasn’t a dream after all, resigns herself to her fate and walks slowly towards Mr. Jones’s office.
“What was I thinking?!” she screams silently to herself.
The scene ends (and so does Christina’s current job).
This is a tough question. On the one hand, the people you currently work for and with whom you are in the best position to talk about your qualifications. On the other hand, if he’s running a sneaky job search campaign, you can’t let him do it.
There are only 2 ways to handle this situation and each carries its own degree of risk:
1. Reveal to your current boss that you are looking for other job opportunities.
2. Keep your job search a secret and find other references you can use
As Christina learned, you really can’t have both. It’s only a matter of time before her references are contacted. It’s important to have her strategy in place and all the bases covered so you’re not caught off guard.
Running a sneaky job search campaign carries risks. If it is not possible or appropriate for you to discuss your job search with your current employer, you should take the time and effort to avoid landmines that you know are in the way of your new job.
The best way to avoid landmines is to plan your job search strategically, continually scan the path ahead, and use as much patience and persistence as it takes to arrive at your new job safe and sound.