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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work Relationships

How to Be "Open to New Opportunities" Without Tipping Off Your Boss

You’re dying to tell your favorite client how much you’d love to work for her firm. But your boss and your client do yoga together. Surely they’d talk.

Your friend who got laid off two months ago just landed an amazing new gig. A recruiter found her via LinkedIn, and noted that she was both qualified and currently available.

So what do you do when you’re gainfully employed, yet dying to land a more interesting, more profitable, or more fulfilling role? How do you make it clear to key influencers that you’re “open to opportunities” without full-on outing yourself to your colleagues or, worse, your boss?

Think “The Art of Allure.”

Just as you might use subtle, yet intentional, methods to entice a romantic suitor, you can use the professional version of these same techniques to woo recruiters or other corporate decision makers—without your boss figuring out what you’re up to. Consider these:

1. Hint That You’re Available

Subtle hints can go a long way, and your LinkedIn summary is a perfect place to start. While you can’t come right out and announce that you’re looking (like your friend who got laid off did), you can present a call to action in the summary that encourages people to contact you and provides a very easy way to do just that.

Example: “I’m fascinated by all things digital marketing and enjoy meeting like-minded people. Feel free to contact me at”

As a recruiter, when I see that someone’s presenting his email address right in the summary, I assume he’s open to being contacted about job opportunities.

(Here are four more elements of a great LinkedIn summary.)

2. Be Interested

Everybody—and I mean everybody—likes feeling like their work matters and their efforts are being noted. Use this to your advantage. Approach people you think may be influential to your next career move in a way that is genuine, seems curious, and makes them feel important. Ask thoughtful questions about their own careers and contributions, in a way that suggests you’re just sincerely interested in their work, not looking for something from them.

By building rapport with those who may be beneficial to your growth, you may have the opportunity over time to reveal your specific career goals and interests—with less risk that they’ll rat you out to your employer.

3. Conveniently Appear in All the Right Places

Remember in high school when you just “happened” to walk by your crush’s locker at the precise moment he arrived each day? Coincidence? Of course not. You had that one figure out to the millisecond. (“Oh, hiiiiii.”)

Do the same now, minus the lockers. Figure out where the influencers in your industry hang out—both online and in person. Maybe it’s a regular meetup through your professional association, maybe a LinkedIn group or TweetChat. Wherever they congregate, consider stopping by, weighing in, or saying hello from time to time. The more you can get on the radar of people who matter to your career growth, the better.

4. Save Some of the Good Stuff for Later

Sharing every single thing about you on a first date isn’t alluring, it’s weird. A similar principle applies when you’re updating your LinkedIn profile as a means to quietly entice others. If you make a zillion updates all at once—especially if you do so without turning your Activity Broadcasts off—someone you work with is going to notice. And they’re going to wonder what’s up.

If you’re updating your profile with the hopes of positioning yourself as open to new opportunities, think seriously about editing in stages. Save some of the good stuff for later, so that you don’t out yourself as an obvious job seeker.

It’s not simple to simultaneously hold down one job while secretly exploring others, but if you’ve got some time to strategically allure the influencers, you might just land “the one.”

Photo of open door courtesy of Shutterstock.