Pursuing Confidential Job Search Alternatives Off the Grid
If you are in a confidential job search, one way to keep your search a secret is to do some of it away from the internet where your colleagues won’t see social media reports of what you are doing. It’s not a perfect solution, as we’ll see. But sometimes it’s helpful to go “old school.”
Your public library
If you haven’t already done it, get a library card from your local library. In many places, you can use that card county or state-wide
Check to see if your local libraries (town, city-wide, county and state) have a business reference section with its own reference librarians. Many libraries subscribe to business databases, such as Reference USA, Moody’s, Dun and Bradstreet, and business journals. These are great resources for researching potential employers and, often, access is free for library patrons. With your library card number, you might be able to use these databases from home, too.
Your library may also have a wealth of books on job hunting, résumé and cover letter writing, using LinkedIn, and almost anything else. Be sure that the books reflect recent changes and ideas. LinkedIn and other social media change so often that many books offering directions on how to use them are partially out-of-date by the time they leave the print shop.
If you can’t find the resources you need in a public library, also check your area colleges and universities. Some may have special resources too expensive for local libraries, and they have full reference staffs, too. You may need to pay a modest fee for complete access to the resources.
Any books you can’t find in your library, you can find purchase online on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers or e-book sites. With reader software on your phone or tablet or e-book reader, you can bring books to work to read during breaks, lunch, and during commutes (unless you’re driving, of course, which is when audio books are better). With e-books, you also don’t have to worry about co-workers checking the cover to see what you’re reading.
Your state Department of Labor
In the United States, your state’s Department of Labor office, unemployment office or career center may have some unique tools for job hunting. Unfortunately, these offices are not usually set up for a confidential job search.
State job services are usually focused on getting people off unemployment and may be less helpful for currently employed people. Also, some services are designed to help hourly workers rather than executive or freelance workers.
What they might offer, instead, is public information on job hunting services, knowledge of state programs in specific fields (such as technology), and lists of local networking resources. Ask if there are public databases that could be helpful for researching local employers. If you were in the military service, they may offer special services for veterans.
Since they are focused on the unemployed, these offices are usually available only during regular state office hours.
Networking groups are often great for business people and other professionals to meet each other in person, and are often used by those currently employed.
There are many specialized networking groups for professionals, such as those for engineering, accounting, executives, HR, marketing, technology, pharma, and much, much more. As mentioned earlier, your local Chamber of Commerce may sponsor events for members. Other groups invite all professions. Typically they meet once or twice a month.
Be aware that since these are local groups, there’s a good chance that a pro in another company may also be a friend of your boss or other colleagues. It’s better to build a trusting relationship before inquiring about job openings. It’s also better to inquire about industry trends in general, before asking about hiring trends.
If you find a useful group, volunteering an hour or two a week can help you meet more people in your field and gives you the opportunity to pay it forward (do something good for others before you need to ask for something back).
Many businesses encourage their employees to join networking and volunteer groups as part of their corporate outreach.
There are lots of networking groups specifically for job hunters – which may or may not be useful for a confidential job search.
If you are an executive level manager, check out executive search groups, such as the Five o’Clock Club. They offer instructors, meetings, advice, online articles and a set of books for job search that could be eye-opening if you’ve not been looking for a job for many years. Their emphasis on finding unannounced jobs might be perfect for a confidential job search.
There’s often no better way to show your employer you are committed to your career than by joining a professional association. Some employers may even help pay your costs.
These groups usually offer professional training, a website, mailing lists, communications, directories, conferences, and job boards. Although members of these groups should support other members in confidential searches, be aware that they may also have close connections with your colleagues and bosses.
If you want to pursue a stealth job hunt, sometimes the best way is to take it off-line and just call somebody on the phone. It’s more personal than an email message, and many people are more comfortable on the phone. It’s a great way to reestablish older or lapsed connections.
Sometimes it also makes sense to follow up with another older technology, the mail, to send a thank you note after the call. It may be old school, but you’ll stand out in the crowd.
Newspapers and Media
Unless you are in a major city, newspapers rarely carry useful job ads, but don’t forget the business news section as a source of intelligence about corporate sales, acquisitions, closings, expansions and lay-offs. (Remember that larger organization may be laying off workers in one division, yet hiring in others.) If you are targeting specific companies, keep your antennae up to news and analysis, online and in your local papers. Also look for interviews of business and labor leaders and others, which may offer information on new corporate directions and the types of employees they will need to sail in that direction.
Whereas The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Forbes, Wired, Bloomberg News and others are great for exploring international and national trends, your local paper or regional business journal may show you how those trends are working out locally.
Trying to maintain a confidential job search over a long period of time is difficult. Remember that colleagues and bosses are (usually) not dumb and may recognize behavior patterns that others have shown when they decide to leave an employer. You need to avoid those patterns and visual cues, and keep your privacy in mind.
To recap the main points of this series:
- In the 21st century, so far, almost all hiring is temporary and many companies have learned to quickly hire and fire employees as their current needs and quarterly reports require. With this employment insecurity, it’s the job hunt that’s permanent, not the job. A confidential job search is no longer an unusual occurrence.
- You need to decide whether a public job search is useful or whether it might get you fired from your current job. If you just want to dip a toe into the hiring waters, a stealth job search might be the best way.
- One way to keep a search secret is to use a confidential search agency. These may be expensive or inappropriate to your field. Always ask about how they keep the search confidential before hiring an agency.
- Respect your current employer. Don’t job hunt on company time or use company resources unless the company has announced layoffs and is supporting your job hunt (which, of course, is no longer confidential).
- Business monitoring of its computerized resources is more common than ever. Don’t use your corporate computer, internet access, laptop, phone, or tablet for your confidential search.
- Networking is a great way to build relationships with people who may later be helpful in a job search. The strength of a wide network can also it’s weakness – your connections may also have strong contacts with the people you want to hide your job search from. Even so, the concept of paying it forward – helping others before you need help yourself – is central to most networking groups, online and in “real” life.
- Building your LinkedIn profile and network is good for your current job, your long-term career, and for job hunting. Check your privacy settings and make your activities appear more like networking and professional advancement, not an obvious move to a job search.
- You don’t need to put all your job hunting eggs in the LinkedIn basket. Also learn how to use other online tools, general and specialized.
- If you’ve been out of the job market for a while, a lot has changed. Try to read up on the latest online resources, résumé and cover letter writing techniques, using social media to build up a reputation, and find job hunting resources before you are laid off or quit.
- Be creative and courageous. Check out new groups, new people, new techniques and new technologies. Keep on learning. Try new social media. Try new live networking groups and associations, too.
- Be patient. The disadvantage of a confidential job search is that you have to do it in your spare time. The advantage is that you still have, at least, some financial security so that you can make your search more slowly, concentrate on building your tools, and learn one step at a time. Slow and steady often wins the race. Also, right or wrong, an employed worker often looks more attractive to a potential employer.
- The stealth job hunt also allows you to change your mind. If you decide your current job isn’t so bad, or personal circumstances change for the better, you can return to your old routine with no hassles.
Please let me know if this series has been useful.
Share your ideas in the comments, below.
This series on Confidential Job Search is the result of years of experience, study, presentations, reading and blog searches. Here are some select
online resources available for further reading.
Keep Your Job Search Secret with These Tips
by Kim Isaacs, Monster Resume Expert
The Dos and Don’ts of Job Searching While You’re Still Employed
by Jacquelyn Smith, Forbes Staff
Seven Critical First Steps For A Confidential Job Search
by Martin Yate, CPC
How to Conduct a Confidential Job Search While Employed,
author not listed, published November 06, 2012.
9 Tips for A Confidential Job Search on LinkedIn
by Jessica Holbrook Hernandez.
7 Tactics to Keep Your Job Search Confidential
by Lisa Rangel
Stealthy Job Seekers: How to Keep Your Privacy Online
by Maebellyne Ventura on the Undercover Recruiter website.
Maintaining Confidentiality During a Job Search
by Stephen E. Seckler, for BCG, an attorney search firm
Keeping A Job Search Confidential
by Nathan Newberger
LinkedIn Doesn’t Mean You’re Job Searching
author not listed, ASuccessfulCareer.com, Feb. 2, 2013.
How to State a Cover Letter Is Confidential
by Nicole Vulcan, undated article on The Nest.
9 Steps to Using Social Media in a Confidential Executive Job Search
by Amy L. Adler, Five Strengths, Career Transition Experts.
The Wharton Public Library Sign photo was taken by the author, Andrew Brandt
Earlier parts of this Frugal Guidance 2 series on Confidential Job Hunts:
Confidential Job Search 101
Run Silent, Run Deep. Keep Your Confidential Job Search a Secret
Your Confidential Job Search on LinkedIn – All Quiet on the LinkedIn Front
Stealthy Job Search Alternatives to LinkedIn