5 Ways to Conduct a Secret Job Search

by Evil HR Lady on February 28, 2011

Dear Evil HR Lady,

I used to love my job. To make a long story short my boss (who is fantastic) has a new boss (who is not-so-fantastic). The culture of my team and the things I loved about my job are vanishing and I feel the need to make a move. I am in sales in an industry which functions like a very small town. If I send out a resume with my name and/or my company I will be able to measure in nanoseconds how quickly the news that I am looking will get back to my boss. Other colleagues “caught looking” have been summarily fired and I don’t want that to be me. Is there a process for submitting resumes to open positions with either my name or my current company marked confidential without appearing that my current company is the CIA? Do recruiters just pass over such resumes in favor of someone who offers full disclosure? Please help! Thanks.

5 Ways to Conduct a Secret Job Search

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike C. February 28, 2011 at 5:16 pm

I'm pointing to this article every time someone says, "well if you don't like your job, find another!"

Thanks! :p

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Interviewer February 28, 2011 at 5:20 pm

The industry I'm in is loaded with people who all went to school together or work together on regional deals. I ended up putting "Confidential Company" on my resume but described the industry, company size, team size, and my job duties. I paved the way to a more confidential job search using recruiters or headhunters, rather than on my own. My recruiter softened the road to the HR departments and hiring managers, citing my concerns that I did not want my current company's management notified about my job search, knowing that people sometimes see names and call for personal references. Everyone was okay with that, since it came from the recruiter (who handled it smoothly). The place where I got hired was owned by two guys who went to school with my previous company's owners, and there was no HR department there (the interviewers were the owners). They probably would have picked up the phone and called those guys and my search would have been big news, quickly. So I was glad for the extra caution.

Good luck!

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Anonymous February 28, 2011 at 8:08 pm

Although it doesn't help with the immediate need for confidentiality, might the OP consider how many of your team would jump ship with them, if given the chance? I don't know the details of the OP's industry, but I would imagine that many of the company's competitors might be very interested in poaching an entire sales team at once.

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Another Evil HR Director February 28, 2011 at 8:10 pm

I just had to chime in here. I wait until I speak with an applicant and then ask him/her if I can contact their current employer. If the applicant says no, I don't. I do not want to jeopardize their current situation while we're still in the interview phase. I may ask if after we reach a stage where an offer will be made, if I can contact their current employer.

It's a shame that so many people think that most HR people are evil idiots. Honestly, few HR people I know are like that.

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Charles March 1, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Evil HR Director – unfortunately, all it takes is one bad experience and every HR person is suspect.

I once had an HR recruiter call my then-current boss, whom I specifically stated should NOT be contacted, and told her that I listed her as a reference. ARRGH!

Yep, HR folks need to do a better job at policing their own.

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Mike finds Jobs for Felons March 3, 2011 at 9:05 pm

This is some good stuff, sneaky but really good. I know why to many people who say they are stuck in a rut and can not get out. I'm bookmarking this and looking forward to future posts.

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Talent Check March 3, 2011 at 10:40 pm

These are great tips! It's sad that a company would actually fire people for looking for another job, provided that it's done on their own time. I think most interviewers do ask if they can contact your current employer, but I had never thought about what would happen if they called that employer even if you told them no…

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Curious March 6, 2011 at 12:16 am

What happens when you take the few vacation days you're given to look for another job and via company cell phone (unknown to you) tracked everywhere you are every minute of the day and fire you anyway even though you've been ranked in the top 4% in sales nationwide even up until the day they get rid of you.

Before you were letter go, you were already interviewing with someone else. When and how do you tell them you were letter go during this hiring process?

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