Bring your secret search to light

Follow these guidelines to do it right

Just your luck. You’re putting the finishing touches on your rÇsumÇ when your home computer crashes. You could run down to the local copy center, but the changes you have to make aren’t worth the money. It’s such a small job, you could easily finish it in the morning at work. But should you dare?

You’re probably familiar with the image of the jumpy, job-hunting employee, the person who is constantly looking over his shoulder while commandeering the department’s printer to run off copies of his résumé. Needless to say, the anxiety associated with keeping a job search under wraps can be intense. But your experience doesn’t necessarily have to be that uncomfortable.

If you’re an employee with several years at the same company and a proven track record, you may be able to reveal your search and keep your current employer’s name as a reference. However, if you’ve been in your current position for less than a year, expect little cooperation from your employer, says Nadia Sellers, president and CEO of National Career Group Training and Development Corp. in Lansing, Michigan.

Whichever category best describes you, exercise caution. Before you take it upon yourself to use office equipment for your career search, consider the following:

  • Schedule a meeting with your boss. All may not be lost at your current job. Talk about what you’d like to change, such as improved benefits or more responsibility. “Sit down with your boss and explain the situation,” says Sellers. “If you have been a good worker, your employer will want to keep you” and will try to accommodate your requests.
  • Ask for permission. If your employer can’t fulfill your needs and is supportive of your decision to move on, then ask if you can use the office equipment for your job search and inquire how they would like you to do it, so that it’s done confidentially and professionally, says Sellers.
  • Make specific arrangements. Find out what equipment you have access to and when; and who at work can be privy to the arrangement. Pat Peterson, director of career development services at Temple University in Philadelphia, recommends relegating your search to lunchtime or the end of the workday.
  • Put it in writing. To avoid any confusion, Peterson says these arrangements should be formalized in writing. Make a copy for yourself and your boss.
  • Go on interviews on your own time. Remember that you’re still employed and have a job to do. Even though you may have your employer’s blessing and access to office equipment, you must continue to be industrious, punctual and professional. Use personal time, such as vacation days, to go on interviews.

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