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5 Ethical Ways to Search For a New Job While Employed
angelarose / JUNE 06 2011

By Angela Rose,

Job Searching on the Company Dime and Other Routes to the Unemployment Line

Ethics-shmethics, who needs ‘em? The answer is YOU do, especially if you’re searching for your next job while employed full time. There is nothing like a breach of ethics to turn off a potential employer. There is also nothing like a discovered breach of ethics to encourage a current employer to make your dreams come true. Not all your dreams, of course. Just the one where you don’t work for them anymore.

Given the economic downturn through which our nation has slogged, if you currently have a job, many would consider you fortunate (yes, even if your supervisor is the evil incarnate). Being employed may even raise your value in the eyes of hiring managers. However, to avoid burning any bridges with the folks who are presently signing your paychecks, you must conduct your job search ethically.

Don’t job search on the company dime.
Don’t do it if you hate your boss. Don’t do it if you finish the big project early. Don’t do it if everyone else is in a meeting. Stay off job boards while you’re on the clock. Don’t send job search-related emails from your office email address. Don’t use the company fax machine to send out resumes. Don’t mail thank you notes from the office. It almost goes without saying, but if your current employer catches you engaging in any of these activities, you may find yourself with a lot more free time.

Schedule interviews around your current work hours.
Be honest with potential employers about the need for an interview before or after regular business hours. They’ll appreciate the integrity you show by continuing to take your present employment seriously. If they must interview you mid-day, suggest your lunch hour. If that will not work, take a personal or vacation day.

The first rule of the job search is don’t talk about the job search.
If you don’t want your boss to know that you’re looking for a new job, don’t talk about it to anyone in the office. Talk about it to your spouse, your best friend or your dog. Don’t talk about it to the receptionist.

Honesty is the best policy.
The professionals who interview you are going to ask if your current employer knows of your job search. Be honest and tell them no. Ask them to contact former employers for references because you’re keeping your job search confidential at this time. This should not rule you out as a potential employee. Lying could result in your current boss learning of your job search through a reference check. This is not a situation you want to deal with.

Keep it positive.
Whether you’re networking at a professional association meeting or interviewing for a potential position, never disparage your current employer. You’ll obviously need to give a reason for the job search, but stay positive. Rather than stating that you hate your bosses’ penchant for wearing stripes with plaid, or that you haven’t had a raise in three years, emphasize your desire to find a position where you can better utilize your skills or pursue a lifelong dream.

Job searching while employed full time can be tough. It also has its benefits. You’ll be in a better position to negotiate salary and won’t be tempted to take the first offer that comes along just to make the mortgage payment. Job search ethically and you’ll even be able to turn your current supervisor into a positive future reference.

About the Author

Angela Rose researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for