Already have a job but want something better?

Here's a guide to help you think through your plan for a successful confidential job search and avoid ending up with no job at all.

A JobMobber asks

“One problem with job hunting is that I'm trying to be discreet – ie. not letting my current job know – and posting on sites, especially like JobMob, is tricky… in terms of putting myself so out there, frankly I'd love the help but can't lose my job. Any ideas?”

7 questions to ask yourself first

Confidential Job Search Top Secret EnvelopeMeasure the risks of a confidential job search carefully before deciding if the potential consequences are worth the effort.

1) Is the secret job search truly necessary?

Think of which changes would be needed to make you stay at your current job. Have you made a serious effort to have them?

If you feel that it would be easier to get another job than get ahead in your current one, you're ready for a confidential job search.

2) What's the worst thing that could happen?

Easy, right? Losing your current job without having found a new one.

Frankly, would that be so bad? If you're looking for another job, it's usually because you're fed up with the current one.

3) What will happen if your company finds out about your new job search?

If you have a good boss, they'll be worried about losing you. They'll also be hurt that you didn't come to them to work out a solution first. Of course, if you have a good boss then you probably wouldn't be considering a new job.

If you have a bad boss, they'll be angry and probably take it personally. Which it might even be. That doesn't mean they'll fire you though. This is especially true if replacing you will be difficult or are they're overruled by superiors who are good bosses themselves. However, you will go on your boss's bad side if you weren't there already. Your job will become even more uncomfortable to the point where you may decide to quit.

4) How will you explain yourself if the side job search is discovered?

There are 3 scenarios to consider:

  1. Success! You find a new job and need to quit.
  2. Word leaks through to your company that you're job hunting.
  3. Worse, word leaks through that you *were* job hunting.

Imagine in advance how these scenarios could play out but keep in mind that the latter ones can also have a happy ending, at least temporarily. Many bosses get comfortable and will only take your complaints seriously when they see you're really willing to act on them by leaving. In your defense, you might even consider complaining as much.

However, what if you've already abandoned your side job search and the discovery came later? If your boss is going to be furious, they're not going to care why you “decided” to stay on. Go back to 3).

5) During your secret job search, are you going to stress over being discovered?

Stress would be a sign that you're not prepared to lose your existing job. This would probably effect you at work in a way that people might notice, which would only stress you more in a downward spiral.

If that's going to be the case, the answer is simple: DO NOT try a confidential job search.

6) Is your job performance going to suffer because of it?

Will you suffer from the career equivalent of senioritis because you feel the end of your crummy job is imminent? I hope not, because that could be a legitimate reason to fire you.

7) Are you ready to move to another company?

Making a smooth transition from one company to another can easily be complicated. Timing will be critical and you'll want to protect yourself from a nightmare where the hiring company reneges on its promise. Your current employer may also try to delay you as much as possible, which could lead to your new employer deciding to renege on their promise.


Choosing to find a new job – instead of being forced to do so – can be exciting. Once you've weighed the risks and asked yourself all the necessary questions, the choice ultimately comes down to whether or not you're willing to accept all potential consequences.

If you've done your homework, the only consequence you'll have to accept is the happy transition to your new role.

If you liked this article, you'll also enjoy The Most Powerful Job Search Tool You Didn’t Know You Had.

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Jacob Share

Job Search Expert, Professional Blogger, Creative Thinker, Community Builder with a sense of humor. I like to help people.

This Post Has 8 Comments

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  3. Jacob Share

    A tip worth adding: if you have a bad boss who wouldn’t give you a reference or would give you a bad one, searching for a job while you still work for them gives you a good excuse to avoid asking for such a reference. If hiring companies ask for it, you can always say that you don’t want your current boss to know you’re looking for a new job.

    Found that in the comments here:
    Bad Boss, Bad Reference

  4. Kate

    These days it’s not a matter of finding the next job, it’s finding another job.

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