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How to Find a New Job Before You Quit Your Old One

Sneaking looks over both shoulders, you open an incognito window in the browser of your choice. You then minimize it and listen carefully for footsteps. Sensing no one is approaching, you reopen your tab and start doing what you've wanted to all day — search your favorite job posting site. Suddenly, your boss walks up, and you shut everything down, only to start the process over when they leave. 

Searching for a new job is challenging under the best circumstances, and it's complicated even further when you still have the old one. Job searching on the down-low is one of the work world's worst-kept secrets. Anyone who has ever gone directly from one job to another has likely done it, but there is a bit of finesse to it if you want to avoid getting caught before you're ready to spill the beans. 

Keep Your Search to YourSelf

First and foremost, don't search for jobs at work. Just don't do it. No matter how sneaky you think you're being, the odds of someone finding out and telling people you don't want told are too high. This is especially true if the computer you use is not one you personally own and your connection to the internet is through a work network. Those networks can be monitored by your employer — even if you're using an incognito window. Avoid leaving things up to chance, and keep the searching to your own time, not your employer's. 

Update Your Email

Another thing best left to your current employer? Your work email address. Make sure the email address you are using as a contact method is tied only to you. If your personal email account is attached to a name that's not the most professional, set up a Gmail (or other email) account specifically for job searches, prospect emails and applications. A no-fail naming convention for a profession email account is some combination of your first and last or first and middle names. In addition to avoiding a sparkly_unicorn@email.com embarrassment, an email address created from your name will also make any correspondence easier to connect to any other web presence you may have. 

Watch Your Network

If you're not on LinkedIn while job searching, you should be. If you are on LinkedIn and are job searching, but haven't left your current job, you should be careful. When using LinkedIn as a job search tool, think twice before turning on the feature that allows recruiters to know you're searching. LinkedIn says it best themselves, "We take steps to not show your current company that you're open, but can't guarantee complete privacy." Also, you want to make sure your profile is up-to-date, but it will look suspicious if you update everything at once. One way to avoid this is to turn off the notification setting that allows LinkedIn to share your profile updates with your network. A better option is to consistently make sure your profile is updated rather than only when you are in a job hunt. 

Keep an eye on any your other online profiles, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media you may be using. It's tempting to share your job woes or job search victories with your friends and followers. However, a status update is not the best way for your boss to find out how you like, or don't like, your job. 

Make time for Meetings

If your search is going well, it's likely you'll need to go to interviews and take phone calls from hiring managers. That can get tricky since most places of employment have similar hours. For phone calls, be sure that any potential employer has your personal phone number, not your work number, and take calls in a completely private room or outside. 

Interviews and other in-person meetings are more complicated. Once you reach that point in your job search, it may be best to tell your boss what is going on and ask for the time off outright. Whether or not to do this depends largely on your relationship with your boss, and your reasons for leaving your current position. If you are unable to talk to your boss directly about needing time off to go to an interview, go through whatever time off request channels are in place where you work. Don't call in sick to work just to get time off for an interview, and only use your lunch hour if you're absolutely sure that the interview won't take longer than you are given for lunch. Also, it may be possible to work with the potential employer to schedule your interview outside of work hours. 

Sneaking around a cubicle, taking phone calls in hushed tones and surreptitiously responding to email isn't the most effective way to get work done or to job search. Following the etiquette of searching for employment while currently employed will not only take some of your stress away, but it will help ensure your current boss is an excellent reference when the cycle starts all over again. 

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