Finding a new job can feel like a fulltime job in itself: which makes it particularly difficult when you also have to juggle your existing role with your search.

Most people need to keep their job hunt a secret in the office. Even when you have colleagues you feel you can confide in, it is generally best not to tell people. Apart from the chance that the wrong person could find out about your plans, it can also create a difficult atmosphere in the office if some people know and some people don’t.

If your job hunt is slow or not successful this can be hard to manage when colleagues are expecting you to leave; and it can also affect other people’s morale and productivity knowing that a colleague is planning to go.

So what steps can you take to ensure that the first time your current employer hears about your job search is when you’ve received and accepted an offer for a new job?

Here are our tips for keeping your job search under the radar…

Step 1: Keep focused at work

A tell-tale sign that someone is looking for a new job is when a previously dedicated and productive employee changes their behaviour in some way. It can be difficult not to get distracted when you’re thinking of moving on but remember you are still being paid to do your current job. Moreover you probably will be hoping for a glowing reference, but if your performance drops in the last few months of your employment that could be the enduring memory your boss has of you.

Keep up the good work and demonstrate both to your current and future employers that you are a professional and loyal employee.

Step 2: Don’t use company time for your job search

As mentioned above, you’re getting paid to do your current job not to find yourself a new one. Any recruiter or potential employer will respect this and should take comfort that you have integrity. Conducting your job search on company time is not only disrespectful to your current employer, but it also increases the risk that you will get found out.

Similarly, don’t use company technology, email addresses, photocopiers, phones etc. for your job search. It is very easy to leave a digital trail that could be accidentally discovered, or found by your employer if they’re suspicious of your behaviour.

Step 3: Be careful of your digital profiles

Naturally you will want recruiters and potential employers to find your professional details online. You’ll need to make sure your online profiles are up-to-date and aligned with the role you’re looking for. However, updating your LinkedIn profile is a sure-fire way to alert your current employer! Fortunately you can avoid this by changing your privacy settings so that updates are not automatically notified to all your connections, and you can also use the Open Candidate feature in LinkedIn.

This allows you to share your career goals with recruiters that use LinkedIn’s Recruiter product. So unless you work for a recruitment agency, like me, your employer cannot access this information.

Step 4: Ask recruiters to be discreet

Recruitment consultants will always establish the best way to contact you, including time of day and preferred method (phone call, email, text etc.). They will also make sure that if they do call during working hours that you are free to talk or will convey a message to you discreetly if you can’t.

However if you’re communicating directly with a potential employer it may be a good idea to let them know the best ways to contact you, and also ask them not to request a reference until after you’ve given notice.

Step 5: Take a holiday, not a sickie to attend interviews

Taking time off to attend interviews is always tricky. The best policy is to take a day or half day out of your annual leave and schedule as many interviews as possible during that time. Calling in ‘sick’ or booking time out for a ‘medical appointment’ is not a good idea.

If you plan to attend an interview after work, perhaps in the evening or having taken the afternoon off, consider whether your interview clothes are a giveaway. If you don’t generally turn up to work as smart as you do for interviews, it’s probably sensible to plan a quick change between work and your appointment.

Working with a specialist recruitment agency is another effective way to keep your job search under wraps. Once you’ve got your CV in shape and spent some time with the recruiter to discuss what you’re looking for in a new job, they will manage the job search for you so that you can focus on your current role.