Stealthy Networking (so my boss doesn’t find out I’m looking)

The best time to find a new job is when you already have one, and the best way to find that job is through networking.

But when you’re in a niche industry and the key players in your field are close-knit, it can be difficult to put the word out that you’re “looking” without that tasty nugget getting back to your current boss. Here are some stealth strategies to consider:

  • Make networking a part of your regular routine so others expect it of you. If you’re consistently connecting with others on social media and attending industry events for professional development and to meet new people, networking becomes a part of who you are instead of an activity that’s associated with a job search.
  • Assume what you say could make it back to your boss. Avoid directly talking about seeking a new job.  Instead, share your latest “wins”, be curious and ask questions, and strive to build deeper relationships. It won’t be long before the competition is recruiting you for opportunities. Getting “an offer you can’t refuse” is a common way to move to a new company and an easier message to break to your boss.
  • Avoid talking poorly about your current company or role. Also, be careful not to share proprietary information when networking. Whether your boss finds out or not, this isn’t good practice and can paint you in a negative light with your contacts. Complaining should never be a part of your brand.
  • Be ready for the conversation. Even at your stealthiest, an attentive boss will recognize you’re getting restless and ask if you’re conducting a job search. Whether or not you choose to share the details can depend on your individual situation, but stumbling through an unrehearsed answer will be a dead give-away. Consider whether you might be able to pivot this conversation into a discussion about making your current role more satisfying.
When you network to build relationships, great opportunities start to find their way to you just through conversations, helping others, and staying in touch.
And if you happen to unexpectedly run into your boss at a networking event, before you hide in the restroom, ask yourself what she is doing there? Probably just “networking” as well.
Happy hunting!

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