Looking for a new job without tipping off your current boss requires a little thought and planning. There may be reasons you want your boss to know you are looking for a different job – maybe your company is undergoing downsizing and is encouraging some employees to leave, or your boss knows that your spouse has been transferred to a dream assignment in another state and understands your need to move on – and you might even enlist her help in your search. But, in most cases, you will be more comfortable staying in your current job if your boss and your co-workers do not know you are looking elsewhere.
First of all, recognize that you owe your present employer your full attention while you are on the job. Don’t use company time and resources for your job hunt. Work on your resume on your computer at home. Take vacation days, rather than calling in sick, to go to job interviews. Contact prospective employers after office hours, either by emailing from home, mailing actual snail mail using your own stamps, or leaving voice mail messages with your cell phone as the contact number. You can check your cell phone for messages on your lunch hour or after work.
A typical job search might take several months, so you need to be careful not to drop clues all over your office that you are looking for greener pastures. It is not a good idea to show up one day wearing formal business attire to wear to an interview after work if you normally dress casually at the office. You may be oblivious to what the people around you wear, but you can be assured that somebody in your office will notice your newly pressed suit and start asking questions or spreading rumors.
Use your informal network of friends and business associates to help you find a new job. Be careful, though, to let them know that your boss does not know you are looking for new employment. Ask them not to contact job leads on your behalf, but rather to let you know about them first so you can follow up yourself in a way that will not attraction attention at your present job. Never post your resume on public spaces like Facebook, because you then have no control over who sees it, including your boss.
If you need to provide references to possible employers, it might be a good idea not to include people from your present job. Instead, keep contact with people who have left the company that were familiar with your work, or ask industry contacts outside your company if you can use them as references. It is easier to find work when you already have a job. Put some thought into your strategy so you don’t suddenly find yourself unemployed while you seek work because your boss found out about your job search.