How to look for a job without your boss finding out
Looking for a better job -- promising shorter hours, greater responsibility, a nicer boss and of course better pay -- is an integral part of any young professional's career. In fact, many HR pundits recommend switching jobs in the first few years of one's career in order to gain experience and boost earnings.
Employers know this. Yet the fact that you are looking for a better job elsewhere is not something you want your current boss to know, well, not until you formally tender your notice that is. So how should you go about hunting for a job without getting into trouble with your employer? Here are some easy tips:
Do not use your office internet or e-mail
So you're on a coffee break and scouting around online for suitable job openings. You see one that fits and decide to apply. Sure it's an online form and will take only a couple of minutes to fill out and submit but can you risk having your boss walk up to your desk and spot you hastily closing the page? Not only will this raise his suspicions but also cause him to distrust you in the days or months that you spend as part of the team. The internet at work may be free but a faux pas like this could prove costly.
Using your office e-mail presents a few problems too. First, the e-mail you send will be on the office servers or in your 'Sent mail' folder which can be accessed by others in your office. Second, this will be the identity that any response will be addressed to, which again presents the same problem. If you need to e-mail your CV to a potential employer do it from a personal e-mail account (set one up if you haven't already).
"I had saved my updated CV and the responses from companies I had applied to on my Outlook inbox at the office, not thinking that this could be a problem," says Nikita Sharma, a media professional in Mumbai. "One day my computer crashed and I lost all my e-mail. When I told the company's tech department about it, they asked me for the details of the mails so they could try and recover them. Of course, I could not tell them about these. And then I was worried for days -- if they did manage to restore my mail, would they notice the 25-30 job updates I had saved up."
The best thing to do is apply from your home computer or if you don't have one, visit a nearby cyber caf . Also remember to put your personal e-mail address as your contact ID on your CV and not your official e-mail address.
Photographs: Rediff Archives
Do not use office resources
Whether it is updating your CV on your computer, taking print-outs of your CV or making copies, or even using the phone to confirm if your CV has been received, do not use office resources.
It might be the most convenient option but using office property for non-official work can come back to haunt you. In India most offices do not have a strict policy about using office stationery, phones and other resources for an employee's personal use, but technically it is considered stealing.
Another reason to avoid doing this is to prevent a very possible and very embarrassing situation -- where you happen to leave a copy behind in the copier or your boss happens to pick up your CV at the printer instead of his own documents before you can get there in time.
So walk down to you local communications centre, pay a couple of bucks and get the copies you need, without all the stress.
You've just had a blowup with the boss and need to vent or you are on a break and are sharing the many reasons why you hate your job -- whatever your motivation, try not to discuss your intentions of quitting with colleagues. They might be trusted co-workers but word tends to get around and you don't want to risk it reaching the boss.
Neeti Verma, who works in PR at a MNC in Mumbai, shares a word of caution: "I had been working at my previous job for 2 years, we were a very close team of 3. When I deciding to move on, I mentioned to my colleague that I would be putting in my papers soon. I had however failed to mention that I had not told the boss yet. At the next team meeting, she casually mentioned how difficult it would be to manage without me around."
"What she had intended to be a compliment turned out to be just the opposite. My boss immediately called me in for a meeting and I was forced to discuss my intentions 2 whole weeks before I actually intended to. Needless to say, all my activities were closely monitored right until the day I left. It was the worst experience."
If you really need to vent, step out of the office and call a friend or family member. Tell them how badly you want to quit and how you're going to speed up your job search. Avoid talking about it in the office and do NOT make it your latest status update on Facebook!
Use the privacy settings of job portals
Posting your CV on the many job portals online can help you find and apply to a number of jobs quickly.
However, the danger of your CV getting sent to your own organisation is a real one. So before you upload your CV, check the privacy settings of each job portal. Some will have the option of allowing interested recruiters to see your experience but not your name, others will have the option of blocking certain companies from accessing your CV.
This is a simple yet crucial step to ensure that your CV is being seen by the right people and does not invite an ominous call to the boss's office.
Fix interviews for days off or after hours
One of the most telltale signs that you are on the hunt is frequent days off or reporting late for work often. Most interviews are scheduled during office timings and coming in a couple of hours late once or twice a week tends to raise questions.
"When I was looking for jobs last year, I had to attend 2-3 levels of interviews with a single company," says Nishant Mathur, an IT professional in Pune. "Typically technical jobs have multiple interviews where your skills are assessed. This can happen over 1-2 weeks, which can be tough if you are working somewhere full-time."
"I would come in late quite often because of this and after about a month my boss sat me down and asked me pointblank if I was leaving. I didn't know what to say. I lied and said it was because of family issues, but I'm quite sure he didn't believe me. I didn't know what else to do," he says.
It can be hard to schedule interviews for a Saturday or after work hours, but try and do this where possible. Another way to get around an embarrassing situation is by scheduling multiple interviews on a single day. This way you cut down on the number of days you take off while still keeping your job search on.