Embarking on a career transition involves exposing yourself to certain risks, including your activities being discovered by your current employer.
Although there are few ways to completely shield yourself from being found out, there are many ways to protect your privacy and minimize your risk across different platforms. Here are a few tips:
Personally, I don’t recommend uploading your resume to major career boards because I find a more direct and controlled approach brings higher quality opportunities. If you want to learn more about this, I write about job search strategies in my e-books.
Additionally, posting your resume on a job board can bring you less than reputable propositions – including slick and highly convincing marketing companies that some say take advantage of job seekers with bogus job offers. If you do opt for posting to a major job board (and even if you don’t), I generally recommend leaving your street address off of your resume. Your city, state and zip, along with your other contact information, is sufficient.
If your LinkedIn network includes your employer and team, be careful with your activity updates. Requesting lots of recommendations or updating your profile several times in a short period could be a red flag to your employer.
Ask for and give recommendations slowly, over a period of time if possible, instead of all at once. You can adjust your profile settings so your network isn’t alerted when updates to your profile are made.
If you join any job search or recruiting groups, adjust your settings when you join so that the icon doesn’t show up on your groups page.
Opting for a website which is a nice touch because it works for you 24 hours a day. If it includes your photo, an audio clip, or a video, it can create a strong first impression. Most D.I.Y. website and blog platforms allow you to password protect your site if you are worried about overexposure, and you can give out your password at your discretion.
Sometimes during a job search interview process, your credit can be looked into as part of the screening. If you want to learn how to protect your credit and financial information, I wrote a detailed blog post about it.
Secret Job Search
My late friend Mark Hovind wrote about the secret job search. I think this is both a safe and smart idea for high profile executives who mustn’t get caught vetting new opportunities. Basically, Mark suggests recruiting the help of a friend (preferably another top executive, mentor, or past boss) to field interested parties for you. Once your friend gives you the basic info, you can decide if you wish to reveal your identity to the potential recruiter, private equity firm, venture capital firm, or company.
You may be working with a firm to send out a mass recruiter distribution for you, or you may be contacting top recruiters one-by-one. Whichever method you use, you can share both in your introductory letter to them and on the phone with a statement like, “I would appreciate you keeping this inquiry confidential.”
If your company has reorganized, been bought by an investment firm, merged or acquired you could add, “I would not want to disturb my company for simply considering alternatives as a result of our merger, acquisition etc…” or, “My current position is secure and I would ask that my inquiry be kept confidential.”