Job Hunting in Secret: 6 Smart Tips

Last Updated Jan 12, 2011 4:04 PM EST

After two years of wage cuts, slashed bonuses and watching co-workers get laid off, American workers have finally built up enough frustration to tell their bosses, "I quit." According to a survey last month by Right Management, 84% of workers plan to actively seek a new position in 2011, up from 60% in 2008. That might explain the dozen or so LinkedIn requests I received this week alone.

Job hunting now is certainly an ambitious task, especially after last week's underwhelming jobs report. And as the saying goes, it's often easier to find a job when you already have one - so don't start packing up your cubicle just yet. Meanwhile, you want to be discreet. Here are some suggestions on how to secretly hunt for a new job as you dream of the day you hand in your two weeks' notice.

1. Keep Communication Private
Printing out your resume at work and faxing it to another company's HR department is like playing with fire. Avoid potentially compromising situations by keeping all job hunting-related communication away from your 9 to 5; if you don't have a printer at home, find a friend with one, or use a nearby Kinko's. Keep email discussions with prospective employers on a personal account. And if you must take a call from a prospective employer during work hours, do it on your cell and outside the building where you can speak freely.

2. Submit Your Online Resume Carefully
If you submit your resume to a public site, be careful. Your boss could come across it since many times your resume gets blasted to hundreds of companies, perhaps even your own. Instead, post on job sites where you have the option of keeping your company name and contact information hidden., and SimplyHired are a few major job listing sites that offer confidential resume postings.
3. Watch What You Wear
Got a lunchtime meeting with a prospective boss? Unless everyone at your job wears suits, that interview suit will give you away. Men, if your attire is typically business casual, keep your interview tie in the car. Women, think about adding a jacket over a dress or keeping a pair of heels in your purse (or both) to take your outfit up a notch professionally.

4. Take Vacation or Personal Days for Interviews
Avoid taking sick days to interview. What happens if you actually do get the flu and need time off? Instead, take personal time off or a vacation day to schedule interviews. Book several in one day to maximize your time off and still have vacation time left for relaxing.

5. Video-Interview from Home
If a potential new job is out of town or out of state and you can't take time off for the initial interview, ask if you can meet via a webcam-enabled service like Skype. A growing number of companies are doing this to save money and time. Make the appointment during a time when you are home - early, before you head into the office, or at lunch time or after work. My friend is actually going to a "speed interviewing" session one night this month, where she'll meet a dozen or so prospective employers in an hour. They group is holding the session via Skype: It's not only convenient, but it eliminates the risk of running into a co-worker.

6. Interview After Hours
Don't be hesitant to suggest a time to meet beyond the 9 to 5 schedule. Meeting up after work or on the weekends is not unusual if you have a current job. Suggest a nice bookstore or coffee shop that is convenient for the interviewer.

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    Farnoosh Torabi is a personal finance journalist and commentator. She is the author of the new book Psych Yourself Rich, Get the Mindset and Discipline You Need to Build Your Financial Life. Follow her at and on Twitter at @farnoosh.