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Job Hunting

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Supposing you’re currently unemployed, your best approach is to let as many people as possible know that you're looking for a job. But if you're employed, however, a great deal more discretion must be practiced, for obvious reasons.

Employers seem to have a sixth sense when it comes to knowing that their employees are looking for another too. Sometimes an employee makes it easy. I remember an instance where a young woman used the office copying machine to run off multiple copies of a resume. The machine jammed; the boss saw what was happening and relaxed the jam, pulling from the machine's innards the first page of the resume. It was, to say the least, embarrassing to that employee, if not downright fatal to her career opportunities with that company.

These clues can be valuable to you, as an employee looking outside your company for a new and better job. These are the things you shouldn't be doing while conducting a surreptitious job search.


  1. If you usually take lunch hours of certain duration, and suddenly begin extending them, the question naturally has to come up in your employer's mil whether you're using that time for interviews. The san holds true if you seldom take a day off and sudden begin calling in sick.

  2. If you start receiving an unusual number of personal phone calls, an employer realizes they could be from your wife or husband who's been taking messages from recruiters, or from employers themselves.

  3. Employees who ordinarily communicate frequently and openly with management, and who suddenly stop that practice, could be trying to keep a low profile until they make their exit. Generally this occurs when an employee has gotten fairly close to taking another job.

  4. If you begin to dress a lot better than you usually do on the job, it's possible to assume that you're going out on an interview that day. Or if you dress better for number of days, it could be because you're getting ready for interviews whenever they come up.

  5. Employees who start taking personal belongings home may have been offered a job and are getting ready to announce their departure.

  6. If you've always taken your vacations at the same time of the year and suddenly change that pattern, it could be because you're about to launch an intensive search, or want to get a vacation in before announcing you're leaving the firm.

  7. Employees who have always taken an active and aggressive role in meetings and begin to sit back and limit their participation could be operating on the theory that they don't want to make waves before their departure.
Is it disloyal to look for another job on the sly while still employed?

I don't think so. It's pretty much an accepted practice. Most companies, for that matter, will not inform you if they are seeking your replacement. It would be nice if they did-and some do, out of interest in an employee's well-being-but don't count on it. You have a right to pursue your career goals, and if you've determined that they're better served with another company, you are not being disloyal by pursuing them quietly and privately. You do, of course, have an obligation to your current employer to perform up to the standards expected of you until you actually do make a move. You have a further obligation not to steal your employer's time by using office phones, taking off paid work time for interviews, using copying machines, fax machines, and the like to pursue your job search.

Most employed people have a temptation to confide in at least one person in their organization that they are looking for another job. Usually it's someone who can be listed, and there's a fair chance you'll be right. On the other hand, chances are even better that that person, well-meaning as he or she might be, will tell someone else in confidence- who will, in turn, tell someone else- and pretty soon lots of people know. I suppose there's a law to govern this; it never seems to fail. Be prudent! Keep your job search to yourself as much as possible, and confine the circle of people who know about it to as few individuals as possible.

Do not use your job search as leverage for improving your current position. How many times have we seen that happen? An employee takes a stand and says, "If it doesn't happen here, I'll have to find another job." Many times than not, the response is "I think you'd better start looking." By the same token, don't look for another job given your bargaining power in your current one. Here’s what often occurs. An employee accepts another job, forms his or her boss, and hopes for a counteroffer. Many times, such a counteroffer is made. If that happens to you, my advice is not to accept it, and to go on to your new job. The minute you accept a counteroffer, you also might accept the fact that you may no longer be viewed as a loyal employee. Surveys indicate that you'll be gone six months to a year anyway. Playing the counteroffer game is bad practice, and you're the one who generally will be hurt by it.

If you've really thought things out and firmly believe that you must seek employment elsewhere, be committed to that goal, pursue a new job with diligence, and, when it's time to announce your decision to leave, do it with the conviction that no matter what counteroffers might be made, you are leaving.

A growing trend these days is to have an employee who has been dismissed leave almost immediately, rather than linger, which might have an adverse effect upon other employees. This is especially prevalent in cases in which an employee has been fired, the theory being that it makes good sense to pay that person whatever severance is involved and have him or her leave rather than stay in a nonproductive status and, possibly, impact negatively upon the morale of others in the department.

For employees who have resigned, more often than not, the employer expects that they will stay for a decided period of time to help in the transition of the work to another person. One way to score considerable points with an employer you are about to leave is to be instrumental and training your successor. Be available to answer questions even after you leave. And be sure your attitude is healthy during your last weeks on the job, and after you leave it.

Don't gloat to your colleagues about your new position. It can do nothing but cause resentment with them. Work as hard during those remaining weeks as you did previously in your employment with the company. In fact, give some extra effort so that when you leave you're viewed in positive sense, something that can help you consider when that company is called upon to give you a reference for yet another job you're seeking. They might also contact you in the future with a fantastic offer to come back.

Be sure to follow up a verbal resignation with a short, very polite letter to your boss, with a copy to the personnel or human resources department; you can be sure it will go into their permanent files. Years later, when the company is contacted for a reference, someone in the personnel department can pull out your file and see your letter that you left on good terms. Be sure to include in that letter only praise, no blame. Indicate how much you've enjoyed your time with the company and how much you've learned from the experience.

No matter what the circumstances are that have caused you to resign, never allow anger or resentment to surface. You may dislike your boss intensely, and be leaving because you can no longer tolerate working for that individual, but you have nothing to gain and everything lose by venting those feelings. Be content with the inward satisfaction that you've found a better job for yourself, and use your final time in your present job to build a strong bridge back to it, rather than burning it.
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