How To Conduct A Stealth Job Search

by | Finding A Job

How do you look for a new job without your current employer finding out? Can your employer see if you’re looking for a job on LinkedIn? And do you need to notify your employer once you get to the interview stage?

Looking for a new job when you have a job can be stressful, as you probably don’t want to alert your boss that you’re searching for something new.

Enter the stealth job search…

What Is A Stealth Job Search?

A stealth job search, or a confidential job search, is the process of discreetly looking for new positions.

The most common reason for conducting a stealth or confidential job search is that you’re currently employed and don’t want your manager to become aware of the fact that you’re looking for new opportunities.

If you’re in a very senior position, board members and other key internal stakeholders may be aware you are conducting a job search, but discretion is still needed to minimize blowback. This is often the case with publicly traded enterprises, companies preparing for an IPO, and other highly visible and closely scrutinized employees and situations.

In a stealth job search, you may take actions to minimize the number of people who ultimately become aware that you’re looking for a new job, which we’ll cover in subsequent sessions. While some of these actions may limit the broader reach of your job search marketing efforts, they must be done to keep your job search more discrete.

[Read: Reverse Recruiting: What You Need To Know]

Can My Employer See If I’m Looking For A Job On LinkedIn?

Whether or not your employer can see if you’re looking for a job depends on how you’ve set up your LinkedIn profile, the actions you take on the platform, and your privacy settings.

Depending on your specific privacy settings, your employer may be able to see the following sections of your LinkedIn profile (not an exhaustive list):

Your employer may also be able to see the content you post and engage with on the platform.

Important: Your manager can’t see whether you’ve applied for a job unless they posted the position.

How Can I Job Search On LinkedIn Without My Employer Knowing?

LinkedIn can be a powerful tool to support you in finding a new job. However, it can also alert your manager and colleagues that you’re looking for a new job if you’re not intentional about your use.

You can take the following actions on LinkedIn to reduce the likelihood of your employer knowing that you’re looking for a new position on the platform.

  • Think twice before using the “Open To Work” green banner.
  • Remain mindful of the content you post and engage with.
  • Double-check the companies you follow, as LinkedIn may recommend you follow the ones where you submitted applications.

Note: LinkedIn is constantly releasing and updating features, so you’ll want to regularly confirm that your features are set to support a stealth job search.

Importantly, you can still strategically add relevant keywords throughout your headline and About section without alerting your manager that you’re looking for a new position; you just want to be mindful of how you position yourself on the platform.

For example, if you’re looking to break into tech, you can mention your interest in AI but would want to avoid something like, “I’m looking to pivot to a tech company.”

[Read: 5 Great Ways To Use LinkedIn To Find A Job]

Is There Confidentiality When Looking For A Job?

The hope is that your job search, networking conversations, and employment applications are kept in confidence until.

However, back door references are relatively common, so know that there’s a possibility your boss or colleagues may find out about your search from a third party.

When networking, which is increasingly important in finding a job as you climb the corporate ladder, consider notifying the people you’re speaking with that your search is confidential in order to hopefully minimize the likelihood of leaks back to your current employer.

Do I Have To Tell My Employer That I Have An Interview?

You don’t need to share private information with your boss, and this applies to your job search.

In other words, you’re not required to tell your manager that you’re looking for a new job. You’re also not required to tell your employer that you have an interview lined up.

In most situations, it’s best to not loop your boss in on the fact that you’re looking for another job and instead wait until you receive a signed offer letter from a new employer to share the news.

Final Thoughts On Conducting A Stealth Job Search

To summarize, learning how to effectively conduct a stealth job search will reduce the likelihood that your manager finds out you’re looking for new opportunities and will allow you to tell them only once you’ve accepted a new offer. You’ve got this!

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

Dr. Kyle Elliott is the founder and career coach behind CaffeinatedKyle.com. His expertise is in Silicon Valley and high-tech. As a result of working with Dr. Elliott, senior managers and executives have landed jobs at Meta, Amazon, Google, and nearly every other tech giant you can imagine.

A trusted career expert, Dr. Elliott’s words have been featured on Business Insider, CNBC, CNN, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Fortune, Harvard Business Review, and The New York Times, among dozens of other leading publications. He has been recognized as a Best Career & Interview Coach, Best Resume Writer for Silicon Valley/Tech Managers & Executives, and LinkedIn Top Voice (the platform’s highest honor).

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