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Career Center: Conducting a Stealth Job Search (Part 1)

There will be a point in your legal career when you decide to look for another job — and for the majority of lawyers, there will be many of those points. Whether you are ready to leave your current job, or just want to test the waters, job seekers should be cautious about the search process. Unfortunately, many attorneys would rather remain unhappy in their current jobs than search for a new job for fear of getting caught by their employer.

Even though there is no foolproof plan, and there is always a risk of getting caught before securing a new position, below are some tips on how you can conduct an effective job search while keeping the search under wraps from your current employer. In this Career Center post, the first of three, Lateral Link offers tips on how you can conduct a stealth job search….

Keep the job search entirely out of the office. You will be surprised at how many people overlook the fact that their employers can (and will) look at what websites they are browsing, or what documents are saved on their computers. Even if you avoid using the work computer, those high-tech printers, copiers, and scanners can save documents that can be recalled several months later. Also, do not list your work email on your résumé or use your work email to send out job applications. One associate learned this the hard way when his current employer’s network crashed and the IT department had to restore some emails, including some of his job applications, which management then reviewed. Needless to say, that associate is no longer at that firm, and that move was not of his own volition.

Even if you avoid the job search process in the office, don’t forget to keep it business as usual. Your focus should always be on your current position, and you should not let the job search distract you. If you have to schedule interviews during business hours, try to be as discreet as possible. Finally, avoid employment discussions with your colleagues, since you never know what information can get back to your boss, even if it’s accidental.

Know where your résumé is going. Unless you are using a recruiter, know which firms your résumé is being sent to. Researching firms before you write and send out a cover letter will increase your chances of getting interviews, as well as reduce the chances of your current firm finding out about your job search. As part of your research, pay attention to a law firm’s history as well as its partners. You probably don’t want to apply to a law firm that refers clients to your current firm, or a law firm that may have splintered off from your current firm, unless you already have a personal contact with that firm. Law firms with good relationships with other law firms will typically avoid poaching attorneys from one another. You never know if the partner at another firm will call your boss to let him know you dropped off your résumé.

And if you want to be especially cautious, another potential trap to avoid is applying to positions that don’t list the firm name. There are a couple of stories of employers that have posted false job openings to see if their current employees apply. Even if your firm posts one of these anonymous job announcements for a legitimate position, you don’t want to inadvertently apply and get a special call from your HR department.

Check back next week for the remaining tips on how you should leave your current job, or simply test the waters without getting caught by your current employer. Additional career resources at the Career Center, powered by Lateral Link.