Q. I am applying for a new position, but do not want my boss to know. Is there such a thing as a confidential job search?
A. You are wise to be concerned about confidentiality when it comes to job hunting. Looking for a new opportunity while employed can put your current position at risk. As cautious as you may be, you need to be prepared for your search to be exposed. Develop the response you would use if your boss was to find out and ask: Why are you looking for a new job? You should also be prepared for colleagues to ask the same question.
Many people want to tell their office colleagues they are starting a search for a new job. But sharing such information can put them in a difficult position if they are approached by an inquisitive manager.
Decide whether it is in your best interest, or theirs, for you to go public about your situation prior to accepting an outside offer.
When you update your resume, make sure to use a personal e-mail address and your cell or home phone number. Complete this work on your own time and don’t make copies of your resume at the office. If you do, they will end up on the office copier — they just will.
LinkedIn can be used effectively for people with jobs who are looking for jobs. So make sure to update your LinkedIn profile. Try to make as many changes as possible at once because every time an update is made, your connections get alerted.
Use “confidential” in the subject line of any e-mails related to a job search.
When you are asked for references, you can include the names of trusted former employers. If your potential employer wants to speak with the person you currently report to, let them know that you will be happy to discuss that after the offer has been made.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.