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How to Find a New Job Without Your Current Boss Finding Out

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Joanne Poh

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Singapore is a small country, and it can seem like everyone knows everyone else, especially within a particular job industry. You might be fed up with your boss or the absolute lack of work-life balance at work, but that doesn’t mean you want to actually leave the job—at least, not until you have something better.

When I quit my last office job, my boss assumed I’d been job hunting on the sly thanks to all the leave I’d been taking (I had actually been on vacation). The last thing you want is for your boss to jump to hasty conclusions, especially if your sneaky job hunting hasn’t resulted in an actual job yet. Here’s how to cover your tracks.

 

Don’t apply for jobs indiscriminately

In desperation, you might have decided to apply randomly for as many jobs as possible. After all, if you sow your seeds indiscriminately, one is sure to take root, right?

Eunice, 31-year-old managing consultant at recruitment firm Jadeclover, warns against randomly applying for jobs. If you’re applying aggressively, there’s a higher chance your boss is going to find out. So don’t waste your job application ammunition on jobs you’re not sincerely interested in, or positions you don’t think you have a realistic chance of getting.

“Some candidates just randomly apply to any jobs that come their way, which doesn’t reflect well on them when their bosses find out,” says Eunice.

 

Remove your current company’s name on your resume

While it’s standard practice to include all past and present employers’ names on your resume, some job hunters who are particularly paranoid about being found out choose to remove their current company’s name.

In place of the company’s name, they provide information on the industry or a brief introduction of the company.

“This can be tricky, as employers might not trust the information you’ve submitted without names to back it up. In such cases, it is useful to go through a recruiter, as they’ll be able to sell you to prospective employers better,” says Eunice.

And obviously, it goes without saying that you should not include anyone at your current company as a reference!

 

Update your LinkedIn profile

Every single job hunter needs a completed LinkedIn profile. Nowadays, headhunters often trawl through LinkedIn profiles in search of candidates, so an updated profile is a fantastic way to passively search for jobs.

Prospective employers are also more likely to google you when deciding whether to call you up for an interview or give you a job offer, and having an impressive LinkedIn profile come up at the top of the Google search results will help you a lot more than a Facebook profile filled with drunken photos.

 

Don’t dress suspiciously at work

If you usually turn up at work in Havaianas flip flops or try to disguise your clubbing outfits as office-appropriate, don’t suddenly appear wearing a black and white suit unless it’s Halloween.

Suddenly turning up on certain days in strangely formal attire makes it damn obvious you are going for interviews. Do yourself a favour and hide your interview clothes in your drawer. Change in the office toilet before sneaking out.

 

Tell nobody

No matter how much you might trust your colleagues, if you don’t want the entire office to find out, don’t tell a single person that you’re planning to jump ship or are actively job hunting. Seriously, I’ve seen first-hand just how quickly news can spread at the office.

A well-meaning colleague might not mean to have loose lips, but accidentally letting information slip is all too easy when you spend so much time with the same bunch of people day in, day out.

 

Use a recruiter and brief them about confidentiality

One of the advantages of using a recruiter in your job search is that you can brief them about how important it is that your current boss not find out about your job search. The recruiter can warn a prospective employer about the need for confidentiality and request that they not call up anyone at your current job.

However, bear in mind there’s still a chance that a prospective employer might happen to be best friends with your current boss and decide to call him up anyway.

Still, it’s a safer bet than blitzing Jobstreet with a hundred copies of your resume.

Have you ever had a boss catch you in the process of looking for a new job? Share your experiences in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.