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7 Ways to Secretly Look for a Job While You Still Have One

Updated: Jan. 20, 2023

It's tricky enough to craft the perfect resume and cover letters, scroll through job listings, and go on interviews—but it's exponentially trickier if you're already employed. These golden rules can help you land your dream job without sabotaging the one you have.

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Do your research

Now that you’re already in the workforce, you know what works for you—and perhaps what doesn’t. This knowledge can not only help you find a job that’s a good fit, but it can also help streamline your job search, saving precious time. Pick a day—over the weekend or take a day off from work—to get yourself organized. Rework your resume to reflect the accomplishments you’d like to highlight and update your LinkedIn profile. Select a few target places where you think you’d like to work, and search the job listings on their website. Reach out to any colleagues or friends who may work there to get the scoop, and use sites like Glassdoor.com to check employee reviews and salaries. Plus, steer clear of these resume mistakes that could cost you the job.

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Keep things separate

The golden rule to rage applying is to keep your job hunt separate from your current work. Obviously you don’t want to let the search interfere with your responsibilities at work (that’s an easy way to burn bridges, even if you loathe your company), but don’t look for jobs while you’re working, and try to schedule interviews for before or after work. And never ever use a work computer to search job listings, because all that activity can be traced, according to US News. Your work computer is property of the company, so they have access to everything on it.

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Have answers ready

When you go on job interviews, it’s almost guaranteed that your potential employer will ask why you’re looking to leave your current job. This is not the time to bad-mouth your boss or the company or complain about dynamics that could easily be a problem of your own creation. Always answer positively, even if the truth is negative. For example, if you’re lonely because you don’t like your boss and coworkers, you can say you’re a real people person and are looking for an opportunity to work in more of a team environment.

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Keep it off social media

As great a networking tool as social media is, NEVER post that you’re looking for a job on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other social media accounts you may use. Even if you’re not connected with anyone from work, if your profile is public (or even private), people can see that you’re actively looking for a job, and it could get back to people from your office. You don’t want to start any rumors that you’re searching for a job, and you definitely don’t want anyone, especially your boss, to find out from someone else, especially from your Twitter feed.

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Take precautions

If you don’t want your current company to find out that you’re looking, expressly request of any potential employers, whether in your cover letter or an interview, to not contact your current employer, according to advice in US News. They will likely respect this decision, but may not know to keep quiet unless you specifically ask. Be prepared to provide other references who can attest to your skills and strengths. If you’re thinking about skills to add to your resume, these are the top skills recruiters look for. Here are some more tips to help you quit your day job and pursue your dream.

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Leverage your power

When you’re applying for a job while you already have one, you’re in the driver’s seat. Your current job gives you leverage. After all, you have experience, you have connections and networks, you have an understanding of the industry, and you’re not desperate for a paycheck. This position of strength allows you to keep your standards high and hold out for the best possible position.

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Worried unhired job applicant feeling nervous while employer or recruiter reviewing bad resume, unprepared vacancy candidate waiting for result, afraid to fail employment interview and be rejected

Be honest if you get busted

Obviously you’re trying to keep this job search under wraps. But if your current employer confronts you about it, be honest. Worst case scenario, it jeopardizes your current position. But best case scenario, it presents an opportunity for you and your boss to have a frank discussion about what could make the job a better fit for you, and maybe you’ll end up getting the advancement or salary increase or other career perk that would make you want to stay.