Having a job helps you find a new one, but you've got to keep your job search under wraps so you don't jeopardize your current one. Ironic, right?
Most hiring managers will scan a resume to see if a job applicant is actively employed or between jobs. A gap on the resume will likely raise questions. And of course, having steady income while you're looking can't hurt either—it gives you flexibility to wait for the right opportunity.
So, like most jobseekers, you look for a new gig while you are employed. The key is keeping is secret and maximizing your efforts. You know the longer your search lasts, the greater the chance someone will find out.
The good news is technology has made it easier than ever to start the process of finding a new job. And there are a couple of covert steps you absolutely must take—such as writing a stellar resume and cover letter—before you surface for a more public search.
Don't even bother to start your online job hunt until you have a great resume and cover letter to match. These documents are the foundation of any successful job search.
Reinvent Your Resume
As you develop new skills, take on new responsibilities, and accomplish goals in your current position, you should note it. That will make it a lot easier to send a resume on a moment's notice when you see the position you want.
Using a resume-building service like LiveCareer can be one of the best decisions you make. These services can take your resume to the next level. They have expertise and techniques that can make the difference in getting your resume noticed. Often you will be given the option to choose from dozens of professionally designed resume templates that will catch the eye of a prospective employer.
In addition, professional resume writing services have expertise in customizing job-specific content that will make your employment history stand out.
Key things to get right on your resume:
1. Contact information: While it may seem obvious, this information should be front and center so a prospective employer knows how to reach you for an interview.
2. Summary: This section should be brief and highlight your main skills, accomplishments, and the value you can add to a company. This is where the value of a resume builder comes into play.
3. Work history: This is the heart of your resume and where you should focus on the impact you've had at each job—not just the responsibilities. Use metrics and other quantifiable ways to demonstrate your success. Again, a resume builder will help you fine tune your work history, to make the specific skills needed in the job you are seeking.
4. Education: List your college and degree. If you have an outstanding grade-point average (GPA), it doesn't hurt to include that along with any other honors and recognition.
And remember—one resume is not all you will need. If you are considering several positions and several companies, so you should have resumes that are unique to those positions or companies. Our resume builder automatically customizes your resume to produce several different versions, making it easy for you to create resumes tailored for each of the job opportunities you are considering.
Which leads to...
Creative Cover Letters
Having well-written cover letters at the ready is the key to introducing yourself and your resume. Professional cover-letter builders are an easy way to make sure you have this first impression nailed.
Your cover letter should be a shell that can be customized for each position you apply to. As you find the jobs that interest you, you can tailor key aspects of your cover letter to match the job description and show why you are right for the position.
Cover letter builders and help you accomplish these three things:
1. Show you want the job and you've done your research: Your cover letter should be answer the following questions: What job are you applying for? Why? What interests you about the company? It should show you understand the job and the company you are applying to.
2. Demonstrate your value: Someone reading the cover letter should quickly understand what skills and traits make you a good fit for the job.
3. Explain your goals: This is the place to tell your prospective employer the type of person and employee you are, and how this position can help you reach your career goals.
The Low Profile Search
Social media and professional networking sites can be both friend and foe in an undercover job hunt. The very sites you use to track down job leads and apply for a new position can also blow your cover—along with your employment status and income.
When it comes to your online job search, Joe Chappell, managing director of Global Marketing & Communications at the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants (AESC), says to choose wisely and use common sense.
"Not all sites are created equal," he says. "Use good judgment in what you post."
Here are some additional tips to find a new job without blowing your cover.
Be Social Media Savvy
While it can be trickier to stay secret while using social media and professional networking sites, there's no denying they can lead you to new opportunities and help you make connections. The trick is to understand how to use them to attract attention to your new resume without advertising to the world that you are looking to leave your current job.
For example, Monster.com gives you the option use a visible resume, which allows employers to find it when they search the site's database. However, a better option for job-hunters who are keeping their search secret is to use the "visible and limited" resume option. This hides your contact information, current employer, and references. Potential employers will still be able to contact you through a confidential email address.
The AESC's Chappell says that "if you are approached by a recruiter through one of these sites, it is also important to do some due diligence and ask about his or her relationship with the client company to determine whether she is retained, contingent, exclusive, internal, etc." Understanding this can help you decide whether you can trust the recruiter to keep your interest confidential.
When using social media and professional networking sites, follow some additional suggestions to keep things under wraps:
· Create posts related to your job search that are hidden from your current employer and co-workers.
· Update your career profiles bit by bit instead of all at once to avoid drawing attention. And when you do make updates to your LinkedIn profile, disable the "Notify Your Network" feature.
· Use direct messaging to contact connections, rather than commenting directly under a post.
· Ask contacts for new job leads to keep your intention under wraps for the time being.
· Upload your revamped resume to social sites that allow you to post your resume.
Stay Connected—the Old-Fashioned Way
Debbie Wilner, a recruiter with 20 years of experience and senior vice president of recruitment at Edelman Communications, says one of the best ways to find a new position without losing your current job is to make networking an ongoing activity, always. Whether you are looking for a new job or not, focus on connecting with others in your industry the old-fashioned way.
To be ready for the perfect job when it comes your way, having a polished and professional resume ready for when you need it is essential. Not only will your resume be the main communication piece for a potential lead, it will help you perfect the "elevator speech" that you will use to verbally sell yourself.
"Networking is a valuable way to expand your knowledge, learn from the success of other companies and tell others about you and your business as well as being a great business development opportunity. This can allow you to be more successful in your current position but also give you insights into new job opportunities."
For example, Wilner had conversations over coffee periodically for three years with her current boss before the right opportunity presented itself. "I was happy in my old position and not looking for a new job when we first met," she said. "However, because of the long-term relationship I developed, I was made aware of the position I have now before the job was even posted. Your job search might be extended if you only start networking when you 'need' to find a new position."
Use your personal phone and email address for all job-search activities. This may seem obvious, but the easiest way for your boss to bust you is by using your work phone or email. Employers have the legal right to access all calls and emails conducted on site or using company time and/or resources.
Using your personal phone and email also ensures you are conducting job-search activities privately, without running the risk your co-workers or boss are watching over your shoulder. You also should conduct your search and respond to job inquiries on YOUR time—not while on your current employer's clock. Your job search activities should be conducted during breaks or while at lunch.
To stay under the radar, you'll need to keep up your performance at work. If you aren't focused on doing your current job well, you run the risk of not only getting fired but also attracting attention from your boss. Being under that microscope could reveal clues to what you've been up to on the side.
Also key is to schedule interviews for new jobs during times that don't conflict with your current work schedule (for example, breakfast, lunch or dinner meetings). And if you must take time off for an interview, use personal days or vacation time instead of sick days. That way, if someone you work with spots you on the street, you'll have less explaining to do.
Come Clean If You Need To
If your boss calls you into the office for a closed-door meeting about your job search, be prepared to 'fess up. And don't despair—honesty is the best policy. Use the opportunity to tell your supervisor about your career goals, why you feel unsatisfied in your current role, and ask about opportunities within the company. Sometimes what you're looking for can be right in front of you all along.