I learned today that a huge percent of people employed today plan to look for different jobs in 2011. Because the economy’s been so bad, many people have stayed in jobs far longer than they would have pre-2008’s financial meltdown. Now, even though job growth isn’t as great as we wish, there are more jobs and thus more mobility.

Perhaps you are one of those people with a job who wants a new one. Maybe you want more responsibility, new challenges, bigger paycheck, a career change. One thing I can bet is that you want to keep the job you now have UNTIL you get a new one. You don’t want your current boss to find out you’re looking, or you might be shown the door more quickly than you planned.

So…how does one look for a new job discreetly?

  • Attend networking events – dinners, parties, Meet-Up events, webinars, conferences. Gather business cards and follow up with people who sound like they have jobs similar to what you want or work in companies that interest you. See if you can have an informational interview to learn more about what they do.  Then if you see a job posting at their company, you can connect with them to see if they can help pull your resume out of the pile. Obviously, you’ll ask them to keep your search confidential.
  • Complete your LinkedIn profile. Make it almost as complete as your resume. Stuff it with measurable accomplishments that show the impact you have had in this and any previous jobs. Fill it with key words that will show up on searches for jobs that you want to have and that use skills you want to use again. Recruiters often troll LinkedIn for “passive jobseekers” – people who are currently working yet might be interested in moving on.  LinkedIn also has job postings and you can apply directly from their site. If you’re questioned about whether you’re looking for work, explain that LinkedIn is so commonly used as a business connection site, you’re jumping on the social networking wagon and hope to provide even more value to your current employer.
  • Use privacy settings available on job posting sites like Monster, so your resume can only be seen by people you want to see it. If you apply for jobs on the site, it’s great to already have your resume posted because it’s an easy upload. Make sure it’s private, though.
  • Keep your search to yourself while at work. Telling even one co-worker makes it extremely likely that word will get out. Share with your family and friends and trusted colleagues.
  • See if you can find a recruiter who will work with you. Normally they work only for paying clients. Yet I have had clients who have so impressed a recruiter that the recruiter keeps looking for positions for them even if the first one falls through. Recruiters are paid to be discreet, so you can keep your search very confidential.
  • Use references OTHER THAN your current employer. Explain that you are keeping your search confidential and prefer to use prior employers and connections. Most potential employers will understand.
  • Wear nice clothes all the time, from now on. The surest clue that you are searching for work is when you show up wearing a suit when your normal attire is business casual. So step up your appearance now, before you start your search. You will startle people and they’ll ask if you’re looking. Today, you can honestly say “no.” Then when you start looking, no one will notice because you will have established yourself as a snappy dresser.  Another option is to change in a hotel bathroom or your car. On second thought, that’s not really a good option. Just upgrade your normal attire.
  • Schedule interviews for early morning, lunchtime, or late afternoon.Taking whole or half days off is also a clue that you are looking for work.  Most employers will work with you. If you get to the end of the interview process and it looks like you might get the job, then take a personal day for “family business” if you need to interview during the day or travel to an interview.

If you have other tips, please let me know in the comments section!