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The ''Quiet'' Job Search

Q: I have decided that it's time to begin looking for a new job in a different company. However, I have a couple concerns. How do I keep my name from getting out there as someone who is looking, and how do I keep my search fairly low-key? I am not in any danger of losing my current job, so I do have the luxury of time.

A: You are in a great position; you have time to look. This means you can be more selective and take the right opportunity, not just the first or second one that comes along.

My next comment may sound a bit counterproductive, but it generally has a good bit of truth. Most good managers can sense when someone is looking for a new job, no matter how low-key you are and even if you do 100% of your searching outside of work hours. There is an entire column on this, maybe for another time. The bottom line is that you shouldn’t get too paranoid. That doesn’t mean you should be incautious, though. Here are some suggestions:

1) Don’t post on the big boards, even if you blind your name and the name of your current employer. There are all types of ways to search these sites, so don’t count on an employer doing it by just company or name, especially if they are looking for their own employees. If you have read my column in the past, you already know the realistic percentage of getting a job through the boards.

2) Many times professional organizations in different fields will have a “resume posting'' service for their members. You find this on both the local and national level. These organizations typically only allow companies or recruiters on a national basis access after they pay a fee. Locally, on the other hand, access is often free. These services are a great place to post resumes, and many good recruiters use them because the results are much better. So understand, if you are a member of a professional organization, what the guidelines are for posting a resume. Here it might work to do some blinding.

3) When working with recruiters, ask them not to submit a resume without first consulting you. The good ones usually won’t anyway and will typically have no problem with this request.

4) Stay away from work email addresses, even if you work at home. Companies, as you are probably well aware, can normally monitor this activity if they choose to. Keep those calls at work to a minimum, as well. Again, most companies can monitor this, and in certain situations, too long on a telephone call is a giveaway. You can always step out at lunch or take a break and get on your cell phone instead. Ask any recruiters to use your cell phone and not your business number.

5) Do a lot of networking and try calling the company/hiring authority directly. This eliminates a lot of the paper “floating'' around out there. It also gets you where you want to go (the hiring manager) more quickly.
6) Don’t say on Facebook, or other networking sites, that you are “currently job hunting.'' I know, this seems obvious, but there are always those “free thinkers'' who don’t believe there could be any negative consequences from this.

7) Do take recruiters’ calls. This is a bit self-serving, however, recruiters are typically the best sources of information. Make sure you are screening for the quality ones. Even if you aren’t looking, it never hurts to be on a recruiter’s radar. They might just come up with that one perfect job you would take. Also, be assured that most of them work very confidentially. Their professional credibility depends on it.

8) Return calls and inquiries promptly. You may not be in a particular hurry, but you also don’t want to appear disinterested.

9) Find someone, a peer or former boss, who you can “check things out'' with and bounce thoughts and ideas off. If something doesn’t quite strike you right or gives you pause, chances are your perceptions are not too faulty.
Good luck in your search.

I am closing this week’s column with a response from a reader about keywords that contains a couple of excellent pieces of advice:

I agree with the whole keyword concept to an extent — that is, if you are applying at large companies. I don't think it plays nearly the part some think it does if it’s a medium or small company you’re applying to. As someone who hires people and has a smaller company (20 employees), my biggest advice would be the following: Don' t worry so much about keywords, but worry more about bypassing the computer editing system as a whole. Send your resume to the head of the company (regardless of the size of the company) by Fed Ex, and call to follow up. Even if you don't get through, you'll get a ''call so and so,'' and then when you call you can say something like “Joe Smith's [i.e., the CEO’s] office suggested that I contact you.''

Here’s Wishing You Terrific Hunting,


About the Author

Bill Gaffney has 17 years of experience as an executive recruiter and career coach. Bill can be reached at 937-567-5267 or For questions to be considered for this column, please email
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