Keeping Your Search Confidential

Questions This Guidance Answers: 
  • How do I keep my boss from finding out I'm looking for a new job?
  • How do I interview without my boss finding out?
  • is it disingenuous to interview with the competition?

How to keep your current employer from finding out about your search for a new job.

We recently got an email from a listener which said: "I listened to your Job Boards cast, which said to post a profile of myself and my resume on 8 job boards. In your opinion, is this safe to do while I am currently employed? What if my company stumbles on my profile? Thanks!"

We have answered this question before, but in passing in other casts. So once and for all, how do you keep your current employer from finding about your search for a new job?

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Be Honest

why should you worry about them finding out?

I am looking to buy a property and one of the requirements is a full time permanent position. after asking my boss if there were any such positions available he said no. I then informed him that I would then start looking for other opportunities.

So I would say  either tell your boss that you are looking for other opportunities or don't worry about it and if he comes to you after finding your profile on these sites then be honest with him and tell him that yes you are looking for other positions to further your career.

Situations when you let your boss know that you are looking

 From the overall tone of the podcat, would it be safe to assume that you really should not have to proactively let your boss know that you are out and looking for opportunities? I am guess that since the podcast says that this is basically a natural part of developing one's career. 

Insecure bosses & searching

BLUF: If you have an interview out of town, and need to take a day or more off on short notice, how do you ask for that time off? (without lying)
OR: How do you maintain good work, integrity and professionalism in an organization that consistently undermines people's ability to do so?

Thanks for this great podcast - it was a nice affirmation of what I've been doing since my last job search - (tweaking my LinkedIn profile, making new connections, etc... regularly). The podcast left me with one question: if you do not take a sick day for an interview, how do you ask for the time off?

My boss must approve all time off in advance (except sick days) and is very slow to do so, despite my having an excess of banked time. For example: a request made well in advance for surgery (during my only slow period) was not approved until the day before the surgery.

I have an insecure new boss who understands only role power, and is learning on the job at my department's expense; there are deeper problems in my organization - so I am looking and I want to leave on my own accord and on good terms with the organization. If my boss learned I was looking, she would probably terminate me immediately. Yes, she is that insecure.

I've never taken sick days, unless I was sick; and prefer not to lie. So any thoughts on how ask to take the time off without lying would be much appreciated.

Don't give too much detail when asking off.


I've never worked in an environment such as you describe. Are your sick days only for when you are sick or do they cover other unexpected personal events? When you take a sick day, do you have to give a reason? Can you inform your boss that you need to take a sick day without giving details? Perhaps it is best practice not to give too many details even when you are sick so it doesn't look out of place when you fail to give an explanation?  This seems appropriate if you have a next day interview with little notice yourself but...

What if you have an out of town interview and know a week ahead of time? It seems appropriate to give your boss a heads up that you will be out. I think the same would hold true, let your boss know that you will be out of town during those days and if asked for a reason let them know that it is for personal reasons that you don't want to discuss.

INTERNAL Opportunities

Mark and Mike,

Loved the podcast. I am looking for similar guidance regarding internal opportunities.

For example, your management puts a stop to an internal opportunity. They do this because they do not think you are ready or they do not want you to leave. The reason supplied is always be the former. If management is not forthcoming about what it will take to receive their support for an internal position, is your only option to leave the company?

At my company HR requires you to disclose your pursuit of an internal job to your management. Many times this disclosure can trigger a chain of events which lead to the opportunity going away. How should I deal with this?

Thank you,


time off & interviews

PDavis - thanks for your response. The podcast says not to take "sick" days or "doctor's appointments" to go to interviews. And well sick days are for sick days where I work. So I'm not so sure of the ethics of taking a sick day, effectively lying, in order to go on an interview.

My boss is very big on exerting her role power, if I simply ask for time off she may or may not approve it. Of course then calling in sick on a day that I've requested and been denied, would be flagrant disrespect of her, the organization, basic professionalism, etc... not to mention just a stupid thing to do.

The tricky thing here is I want to move on to a new job, I know she wants me to move on. So it would be in both our best interests for her to approve any time off request I make, but I can't say that. Based on my experience of her so far, it's far more likely she would reject my request.

I'm having quite a struggle as far as how to do the right thing ethically and professionally at the same time I'm working for this particular individual. I am very anxious to move on to a new job already!


Everytime I committed

Everytime I committed mistakes from my work, I will not let that my boss finds out it first. I will be the one to tell my boss first then I will make it up for my fault. - Instant Tax Solutions Complaints

Reminds me of Garrison Keillor

In the Prairie Home Companion one of Garrison's fictitious businesses is Bob's Bank.  If you want to withdrawal some money from your own savings account to go on vacation in Florida, Bob makes sure to question you sufficiently to approve your withdrawal. 

When I need time off, I do not feel obligated to explain my time off, even if for a few days.  I simply say, "I need some vacation time"  and nothing more.  If he questions me, I can usually tell if she is concerned or probing.  My answer to the second question is to be polite and say "It's personal", or "I'm going on an interview", and smile like it's an inside joke.

Don't get yourself too wrapped around the axle on this one.