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Advice / Job Search / Finding a Job

Covert Operations: How to Channel 007 in Your Job Search

You're still employed, but you’re plotting your escape to the next great thing. Updating your resume and expanding your network is tough enough, but how do you actually look for jobs, call prospective employers back, and—most importantly—go on interviews if your 9-to-5 hours are consumed by your current job?

It's time to go Bond. James Bond.

Even if you think your boss is clueless about anything you're ever up to, you've got to be 007 covert as you pursue your next opportunity. Not only because it will prevent all sorts of awkward workplace situations, but also because you could lose your current job if you get caught.

Being stealth can be tricky, but not so much if you get into true Bond character. Think about it. How would James Bond proceed if he wanted a new job while still employed? For starters, he’d be smart and strategic. He would craft a game plan that allowed him to zig when everyone assumed he was about to zag. He’d pay close attention to every last detail and “what if?” possibility involved in his pursuit. And he’d dress like he was going out on an interview every day, so no one even batted an eye on the days he really did cut out early to meet with a prospective employer.

And no, Bond didn’t have Facebook, CareerBuilder, and vacation days to contend with, but if he did, here’s how he would keep the search going in the cloak of darkness.

1. Use Discretion on Job Boards

Here’s a little secret about your HR department: If they subscribe to Monster, CareerBuilder, or any of the other job boards (and they probably do), they sometimes enter your company’s name as the search term and see if any of their own people are looking for a job.

Don't let your name pop up in those results. Post your resume as a confidential candidate, or be even craftier: Find out which job board your HR department uses—and use another one.

2. Plan Ahead

Schedule vacation time off several weeks in advance with the specific goal of filling that time with interviews. Work like mad to achieve that goal and to cram as many interviews as possible into that window. Now, don’t burn every last day—you can’t control the timing of when prospective employers will call you back. But if you set time off in advance, you’ll look much less fishy than you will if you have that sudden “family emergency”—or seven—crop up.

3. Get Crafty with your Excuses

Of course, if someone wants you to interview on short notice, you’ve got to get be creative to sneak out of work. Come up with an unusual (but believable) reason on why you must take some personal or sick time. Rather than, “I have a doctor’s appointment” (lame), consider something unusual that few will question (“My son decided the toilet was the perfect place for all of his army men. I’m sitting here waiting for the plumber and will be in ASAP!”).

4. Don’t Use Your Work Email

This should be beyond obvious, but I see it all the time, at all levels of employment. Many employers monitor email (you know this, right?), and some specifically flag job-searching activity. Same goes for the printer and copy machine. If someone finds six freshly printed copies of your resume at work, you may just find yourself with a cardboard box standing in the parking lot. Of your now-former employer.

5. Be Careful Who You Tell

Don't count on colleagues—even close colleagues—to keep mum when you whisper "I'm trying to get outta here" in their ears. Likewise, when you begin interviewing, keep it to yourself as much as humanly possible. Most people like to be the one with the inside office “scoop.” And you don’t want to be the subject of their scoop.

Of course, you will need to tell the people in your network that you’re looking, but make sure you also tell them that you’re trying to keep your search under wraps. So “Hey! I found the perfect job for you!” doesn’t end up on your Facebook wall.

6. Leverage Social Media (Carefully)

This is probably the scariest topic for those seeking new positions while still employed. Don’t become paralyzed and avoid social media entirely, but definitely be mindful of who is in your current network, what they can see, and how that could impact your current job. You can still participate in discussions via LinkedIn groups, direct message people in your network, and build connections with people who work for the companies you’ve got your eye on—all without all your friends or followers knowing your every move.

And above all, keep your cool. Being in a constant state of worry that you’ll get caught is an easy clue that you’ve got something to hide. But, if you can pull off some stealth tactics, a killer poker face, and grace under pressure, you’ll be just fine. Take it from Bond.

Check out more from Job Search Month at The Daily Muse

Photo courtesy of Johan Ooman.