The Stealthy Job Search: How to Find a Job When You Already Have One

Glad to be employed, but itching for a new job, career, life?

It isn’t easy to find a job when you’re already working 8+ hours a day, but it especially isn’t easy to conduct a stealthy job search with everyone and their grandma living it up online.

When do you tell your boss you’re looking? DO you tell your boss? What do you do when you have an offer? Our Twitter #careerchat found out just how employed job seekers can avoid career-busting job search pitfalls.

Chat transcript:

Question 1: You’ve been thinking about switching jobs/looking for new opportunities. How do you even start?

Staying Internal:

  • Jill_Perlberg: You need to identify what you’re looking for that you don’t have now. And if you want to stay with the same co .
    • Jelfster: Good point – and make sure you research to see that the job you want has this…grass isn’t always greener!
      • MyPath_MP: Definitely true. You need to really think about all the reasons why you want to make a move in the first place.
  • Jill_Perlberg: If you want stay with same co., your current boss might be your biggest ally, depends on the relationship.
    • MyPath_MP: For internal advancement, your boss may definitely know of opportunities you won’t.
  • CaSuPe15: Would this work in a small company setting?
  • Jill_Perlberg:  It might. Depends on the firm. If you need more challenge, you might be able to craft your next job.
    • MyPath_MP: I agree, more & more you’re able to create your own position as long as you have a good biz case.
  • Jill_Perlberg: Stay internal: make sure your digging about jobs doesn’t get to your boss before you tell them you’re in looking
  • Jill_Perlberg: Know who you can trust internally and ask them to keep eyes and ears out for jobs and information
  • bizMebizgal: you best know your corporate culture, and have an idea of how they will handle it. if like High School, then mum’s the word
  • buzzandrea: If you want to advance internally, I think you should have an action plan – even work with your management team to create it
    • Jill_Perlberg: I completely agree. HR may also help to identify what changes might be taking place that you’re unaware of
    • MyPath_MP: Excellent point! Always need to show the employer why this is good for them too.
  • Jill_Perlberg: If the change is due to your current boss, tread lightly when you are talking internal
    • MyPath_MP: Agree. You never know who talks to whom internally. Sometimes it can help, sometimes it can’t!

Looking Outside:

  • bizMebizgal:  If you are thinking about looking outside your company, networking within the community is a great place to learn options
  • bizMebizgal: networking give you the opportunity to create a personal brand and meet new people which equals new opportunities
    • CaSuPe15: I’ve made so many amazing connections via Twitter! Chats like #careerchat, #internchat, and #happo are great resources!
      • bizMebizgal: I completely agree and my networking continues to grow because of twitter
  • bizMebizgal: Most job opportunities available are all about who you know. If you don’t have a large network, start creating one
  • MyPath_MP: If you’re only looking outside your co, DON’T tell your boss until you have the job offer in hand.
  • bizMebizgal: networking can jumpstart any job search just by talking to people and letting them know you are open to other opportunities
  • Kblennon: what if you are asked by your boss if you are looking elsewhere…how do you suggest you handle that situation?
    • Jill_Perlberg: If you feel you are well respected and needed, I would be honest and also say that really want to stay vs. leave
    • bizMebizgal: Great question! Hopefully you have covered your tracks and can be honest about ur activities.
    • Jill_Perlberg: Also, you need to know the current work environment, if the company cuts heads often, protect yourself.
    • LesleyMWeiss: Depends on relationship with boss. Sometimes you can be honest say you’re looking into ops to learn/try new things.
    • MyPath_MP: Yes, if you’re not comfortable w/being asked, you can say you’re interested in career dev in general.
  • bizMebizgal: Don’t tell anyone you are looking until you are far enough along that offers are close behind and you make a decision.
  • bizMebizgal: What happens when u talk to ur boss & then they decide to let you go bc they find out u are looking elsewhere?
    • LesleyMWeiss: If they let you go, I don’t think there’s much you can do if you’re an “at will” employee, as most are
  • CaSuPe15: Does it happen where the co ur looking into contacts ur current employer? Is it fair to ask for confidentiality in ur jobsearch?
    • bizMebizgal: u never put ur current manager as a reference if looking while still employed& u can always ask 4 confidentiality.

Question 2: How do you use your network when you’re looking externally?

  • MyPath_MP: When your network is made up of current co-workers, you need to tread very carefully.
  • buzzandrea: You should be specific w/your network re. what you’re looking for and why. It will help them to better identify good leads.
  • Jill_Perlberg: Often, networks contain current colleagues, be smart about where you post infomration and what you’re looking for.
  • CaSuPe15: if u know anyone in the industry/co ur interested in, ask about the job/co and culture to see if it’s a good fit
  • Jobsessed: Depends on network. Social Media: send friends private msgs, not public. In person: limit who you trust/talk to.
    • MyPath_MP: Exactly. Also individ. messages versus one widespread email blast will help you control who you inform.
    • LesleyMWeiss: At the same time, be careful what you share with new contacts–you never know if your new contact knows your boss
    • LesleyMWeiss: If you have a mostly internal network, make sure you can really, truly trust them to keep quiet if you ask for help.
  • Jill_Perlberg: Utilize direct messaging, Facebook, and other sites where you can reach out to people confidentially
  • MyPath_MP: Treat anyone you meet as a potential networking contact, you never know who’ll end up helping you.
  • bizMebizgal: Linkedin is a great tool to use to set up informational interviews to get some face time w/ people. Face time very important.
  • Jill_Perlberg: Look for former colleagues on LinkedIn who are now employed at your target company, ask them for info/reference, etc.
  • Jelfster: Also depends on what industry you’re in. Some (journalism springs to mind) are very tight-knit. Word travels fast!
    • Jill_Perlberg: exactly. You need to use common sense.
    • MyPath_MP: Absolutely right. You know your industry best, so act accordingly.
  • bizMebizgal: Make separate biz cards to pass out when u meet people that list what interested in finding & email different than ur work.
    • CaSuPe15: Great idea!
  • buzzandrea: People talk; therefore, you should always be prepared for the consequences – Don’t do it otherwise.
    • bizMebizgal: Good point! If you aren’t ready to be honest about what you are doing, then you shouldn’t be doing it.
  • bizMebizgal: Always follow up with everyone you meet. Never know who their 2nd and 3rd contacts are.
  • MyPath_MP: Don’t use company time to network!
    • Jill_Perlberg: Remain professional! Don’t do something that would impact current rel’ships & ability to come back
  • LesleyMWeiss: 1 reason why it’s a good idea to always have active network: new activity and queries are both easier and less noticeable
    • MyPath_MP: And if you already have a presence on LinkedIn, it’s easy to direct potential contacts to yr profile.
  • bizMebizgal: Informational interviews is a great way to meet people w/in a potential company you are looking to join. Pick up the phone!
  • MyPath_MP: When sending emails, make sure you have a personal sig line that includes your LI profile link & pers contact info
  • bizMebizgal: Make sure that your email address is very professional and not some high school one that you once thought was cool.
  • Jelfster: It’s always easier to get a job from a job, so less need to expose yourself to risk.

Question 3: You have an offer on the table. How do you approach your boss?

  • jobsessed: Ask boss to chat, approach openly and honestly, don’t beat around the bush.
  • LesleyMWeiss: Respectfully. Don’t burn bridges! You never know what opportunities former coworkers and supervisors can offer in the future
  • jobsessed: Don’t say you’ve accepted offer yet, they may want to counter/keep you. Saying you’ve accepted could burn that bridge.
    • MyPath_MP: Exactly, be respectful & see what they say in response first.
  • buzzandrea: The least non-threatening, the better. There are a whole host of reasons to make this as pleasant an experience as possible.
    • Jill_Perlberg: agreed. I know many people who left a company for experience only to come back a few year later. Don’t burn bridges
  • Jelfster: I left a company in 2002 and was back three years later. same bosses. It happens more than people think!
    • buzzandrea: I went back to two companies three times each!
      • MyPath_MP: You’ve obviously maintained your relationships very well!
        • buzzandrea: My new-found knowledge and experience also benefited them, too!
            • MyPath_MP: Awesome. Win-win helps everyone!
  • LesleyMWeiss: People repeatedly left and came back to my last employer–they’re very good at sustaining relationships
  • Jill_Perlberg: Know what you want to do if they counter-offer. More money doesn’t fix all of the reasons why you went looking.
  • Jelfster: Be honest, but not bitter. Focus on why this is new opportunity is such a good one versus why you’re leaving this one.
    • MyPath_MP: Great point! Your now-former boss could be a useful networking contact in the future.
  • Jelfster: Keep the atmosphere cordial – ask your boss what you can do to ensure a smooth transition in the lead-up to your departure.
  • Jill_Perlberg: Schedule time with your boss so it’s not sprung on them without time to react.
  • bizMebizgal: Never take this opportunity to vent to ur boss about what u hate. Be open, honest and professional.
  • MyPath_MP: Be prepared to be asked to train your replacement – and when you train them, do it right.
  • Jill_Perlberg: Be prepared to be walked out of the building. Depending on where the offer is from, you might be asked to leave right away
    • buzzandrea: it seems to happen in some industries more than others, too. I think that’s also a consideration.
  • jobsessed:  If you want to keep/have a good relationship, give boss more than two weeks to find a replacement/offer to train new staffer.
    • MyPath_MP: Agreed, and it depends on the industry/situation. You also have a new job wanting you to start!
  • Kblennon: another reason why you shouldn’t burn bridges is because you never know when you will need someone’s help
  • bizMebizgal: Try to always give 2 weeks, this allows your current employee to prepare for your transition. Never leave them hanging
  • Jill_Perlberg: If your boss counters w/money or responsiblity, talk about why it took the new offer for them to react.
    • MyPath_MP: You may have been a temp & they’re offering you a perm pos now to keep you.
  • CaSuPe15: Is there a way to repair damage if you have burned bridges once you’ve left?
    • MyPath_MP: It’s like a bad break-up: It takes time & nurturing. You may have to do more work to fix it than usual.
    • Jill_Perlberg: sometimes you can’t fix it and make sure you continue to build all of the other relationships you built within the co.
    • bizMebizgal: If bridges are burned, there is a reason why you left and walk away knowing you made the right decision.
    • Jelfster: It takes two to tango – do your best to stay on good terms but it depends on the other person too!

Open Questions:

AlysondraMilano: How much do employers look at study abroad? Will it greatly hurt my job search to do local internships instead of SA?

  • Jill_Perlberg: Are you looking to work for a global company? If so, SA will be a huge asset.
    • AlysondraMilano: I am open to any opportunity. Im doin an internship w/ a nonprofit now, but im lookin for future paid internships
  • buzzandrea: As more companies understand the importance of globalization, I think studying abroad will put you ahead of the pack!
  • LesleyMWeiss: I don’t think it would hurt you at all! The real-world experience will really help your job hunt
  • CaSuPe15: I found an internship while I was abroad! Definitely helped with job search and experience!
  • Jill_Perlberg: You never know where your career will take you. Even working locally, collegaues may be from abroad.
  • Kblennon: studying abroad gives u a better world perspective & a better understanding of other cultures u might end up doing business with
  • Jill_Perlberg: studying abroad taught me more about myself-I learned independence, risk taking,&problem solving–things you’ll need in work
  • LesleyMWeiss: It’s win-win either way–you expand your experience and skills and make new contacts with abroad or internship
  • bizMebizgal: unpaid internships however give u the opportunity to experience more departments/activities in an organization.
    • LesleyMWeiss: Yes, but a paid internship is worth the hunt –especially if you are financing your own education
    • bizMebizgal: agreed! I have done my fair share of both, paid and non-paid. Non-paid was a better experience
  • Kblennon: you also meet a ton of people when you study abroad so it’s a great way to network
    • PRjoshmorris: So true! It’s a small world!
  • Kblennon: finding a paid internship is hard…be forewarned
    • MyPath_MP: Yes. You may have to forego $$ for experience
    • AlysondraMilano: I know, thats why I took an unpaid 1 to build my resume. my HOPES are to get a paid 1, but i wouldnt b closed 2 unpaid
  • Jelfster: International business experience is becoming increasingly important. Do it & you’ll have golden eggs all over the place.
  • bizMebizgal: I wish I had the opportunity to study aboard. I played sports in college and no time for anything but sports.
  • buzzandrea: What about a paid temporary job vs. an unpaid internship?
  • jobsessed: Internships are smart when unemployed. Future emps will respect ur decision to better urself during tough times

Jelfster: How do you make time to look for another job while employed? At least when you’re out of work it becomes your full-time ‘job’.

  • subeehonee: Looking for work is my full time job. Was laid off 2 months ago
    • MyPath_MP: Sorry to hear about your layoff. Looking for work is definitely a full-time job in itself.
  • bizMebizgal: How is the job search going? What types of things are you doing to find a job?
  • LesleyMWeiss: You just sleep less. If you’re seriously looking, it’s like having two full-time jobs.
    • Jelfster: Trouble is, some have other responsibilities and don’t have a spare minute in their day.
  • bizMebizgal: u have to be committed to finding a new job, hard work. Instead of going home to watch TV, attend a networking event.
    • MyPath_MP: Exactly. Make time for the job search the same way you make time for the TV.
  • MyPath_MP: Make sure not to use comp resources. Even w/out a pers. comp, go to the library during lunch/after work

Jill_Perlberg: Anyone out there who recently switched jobs and had to give their notice? How did you handle it?

  • LesleyMWeiss: I walked into my boss’s office and told her I loved working with her but had an opportunity to try something new
    • Jelfster: What was her reaction?
      • LesleyMWeiss: She was great and totally understanding. Now I freelance for both my former depts at old co — very intact bridges
  • MyPath_MP: That’s an excellent way to put it.
  • jobsessed: I did. Asked to speak to boss, had mtg, offered 90 days to train replacement. Was told “don’t come in Monday.”
  • MyPath_MP: Ouch! You went well above what was expected, too!
  • jobsessed: It was something she wanted from someone, so I offered. Didn’t want to burn bridges, but didn’t have a choice.
    • MyPath_MP: Sounds like you conducted yourself w/integrity. Great asset to a company, you are!
      • jobsessed: Why thank you. I’d like to think I did. My former boss unfriended me on FB and LinkedIn MOMENTS after I left.
  • Jill_Perlberg: Yikes. Reason #22 why you have your personal belongings ready to go before meeting with your boss.
    • jobsessed: Tried to be professional, boss became irrational and took quitting as slap in the face, not me bettering myself.
    • jobsessed: Reaffirmed my decision to quit
  • Jelfster: My last job I left I had a good reason – was moving to the US from Scotland! Said I’d love to stay but commute was too much…
    • MyPath_MP: Can’t argue with that for a reason!


judithrasband: It’s all about managing a professional image — that’s how others perceive us.

Job seeker? Just want to get ahead in your career?

Join our Twitter #careerchat Tuesdays @ 12 PM CT to talk about everything from friending your boss on Facebook to personal branding to how to get a call back from recruiter.

How to join: Go to and follow the hashtag “careerchat” at noon CT every Tuesday!

Adapted from my post here on MyPath.
Pic taken from here.

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