Job Search On the Sly: Getting Out Without Getting Fired

A job search can be a thrill–like window-shopping for your future. But if you are feeling fed up in your current role, it can compound that feeling and zap your motivation for your day-to-day reality. You need the job you have to fuel your professional reinvention, so try not to get so focused on your plans for the future that you get sloppy in the here and now and jeopardize your current gig.

If you are looking for a new job, then you are also planning an exit strategy to remove yourself from your current situation. Keep your exit strategy clean. If there has been drama or undue stress at your current job, try to put your feelings about that into perspective. You are handling this. You are doing the legwork to secure a better fit.  

Try to keep yourself as emotionally organized as you can. Don’t use job searching at work as a strategy to cope when you get frustrated with a job that no longer suits you. That will make you feel desperate about your search, unmotivated about your current job and emotionally chaotic. You need to stay in control of this situation, and one way you do that is by understanding and managing how you feel about it.  

Job searches take time; plan for at least three months. Once your search heats up, you will need to ask for time out of the office, maybe at odd hours, perhaps even a couple of days or weeks in a row. Be on your most professional behavior in support of your search and in preparation for your exit. This will simplify the task of getting the flexibility you need. Professionalism begets professionalism.

Action items

Take care of your search-related action items out of the office during lunch. Answer your emails privately on your phone. If you need to make phone calls, head out of the office to do so. Go to your car or your favorite coffee shop and make sure that no one from work is around when you conduct your phone interviews or follow-ups. These items are time sensitive and need attention immediately, but take care of them discretely.   


Trolling around for opportunities isn’t time-sensitive, and you don’t want to get busted perusing Simply Hired posts while you are supposed to be working.

Reviewing job ads takes time and focus. It’s easy to get absorbed in the project, and to someone who wanders in and sees what’s on your screen it’s obvious what you are doing. This scenario is uncomfortable and unprofessional. Avoid it. Search job postings privately.

Internal job searching

Companies have a variety of policies when it comes to internal job searching. Before you launch an internal search, find out how that works with your employer and decide if you are comfortable with the arrangement.

If you opt to go for it, keep in mind that hiring a new staff member away from another team is always delicate news to share on the management side, so those interviewing you probably share your aim to keep it confidential until there is news to report. But don’t be shy to state your privacy concerns directly during your interview.  

You are not doing anything deceitful or wrong by pursuing an internal opportunity, but you have every right to request discretion.

Also be discrete with you calendar and make sure to block your interviews as private appointments.     


You want to be in control of this news, so don’t tip your hand until there’s a new job offer in it.