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The Confidential Job Search: Apply for a job without blowing your cover

Because some employers will fire you on the spot if word gets out that you are job hunting, you need to know how to conduct a covert and quiet job search.

COVER LETTERS Your cover letters should begin: “I am applying in confidence for …?

RESUMES Only when a candidate is particularly concerned about secrecy, should the word “resume? appear on a legal resume. Now is the time to add “Confidential Resume? over your name, like this:

Jane Smith
10 South Maine Street, N.W.
Anytown, MN 55555
612/555-5555 smith1465@hotmail.com

EMAIL and PHONE NUMBER Under no circumstance should you undertake a confidential job search using your employer’s email or your work phone number. Work email can be monitored (and spam-blocked), and your phone really does belong to your employer.

During the work day Now. Right now. Ramp up your networking with professional organizations and people within your targeted professional group or practice area. While your boss may become suspicious if you take a lot of time to meet with people whose work is wholly unrelated to your current practice, he should not be grumpy if you are meeting with people who do the work that you do. Sometimes you may be able to explain networking and attending CLEs with professionals in other practices if your target practice is related to your current work, or if it is related to one of your employer’s stated expansion areas.

On your own time (including breakfast and after work) If you are trying to change careers or leave your current practice area, meet with these professionals either before or after work. If your boss is particularly prone to paranoid fantasies about departing staff, do all of your networking before or after work.

Early in the interview process When you are asked for references, explain that you are applying in confidence and that you would prefer that a reference checker call the people who are on your list, and not at your current employer. Call the CPDC for help if you are asked to blow your cover with a reference check before there is an offer on the table.

Offer contingent on a reference When the prospective employer has settled on you, and only a bad reference from your current employer will tank the offer, that offer is “contingent on a reference.? This is the time to provide contact information for your current employer. This is also the time to face the music, face your employer, thank her for all of the amazing experience that you have had (with a straight face, please), to let him know that you are about to receive an offer for a position that suits your long-term career goals; and that you hope to receive an excellent reference for the work that you have done. Finally, give this required recommender a list of useful things to say about work that you have done.

What about a bad reference? Protect yourself by inoculation and prepare the interviewer for a less than stellar reference.