Hiding Your Job Search From Your Current Employer

Not too long ago I was talking to a friend about the job search process in general and the use of job boards in particular. He had a concern about posting his resume on the job boards because he felt confident that his current employer would find his resume. This of course could result in things going sour with his current employer before he actually found a new position. A reasonable concern, if you ask me.

So this got me thinking about how I would proceed with hiding a job search of my own if I felt it was necessary. As I thought about this I figured that, for best results, I would need to alter my resume in superficial ways that would hide my identity, but would otherwise be accurate about my skills and experiences. With that in mind, here's my list of resume modifications that although are deceptive would be a necessary evil.

Change My Name – This should be an obvious change as your name is the biggest giveaway to your current employer. Unfortunately, changing your name is also likely to be what upsets people the most. What you should do though is pick an alias that matches your current nationality. You don't want to go from being Omar Khan to Yuval Goldstein. The idea is match a prospective employer's mental image of you. You might also want to consider using your middle name as your first name or using initials. And if you happen to work for a large company or your name is a common one, you might be able to get away with sticking to your real name.

Change My Phone Number – If your current employer doesn't have your cell number or home phone number, you're all set. Just make sure your message doesn't include your name. If your current employer has both numbers, you may need a pay as you go phone. It'll cost you some money, but it'll hide your identity rather well. The good thing is that unlike a name change, using a new phone number isn't going to negatively affect anyone's perceptions of you.

Create An E-Mail Address – Many recruiters will want to contact you via e-mail first so you'll need one that you haven't used before. Use GMail or some such service rather than a domain you own. Using e-mail for first contact gives you an extra opportunity to get some info on the prospective company before you have a chat with anyone. Although this e-mail address is disposable, try to get one that looks professional. If the address is already taken, consider tacking on a year to the end of it. Not the current year mind you, but last year or the year before. It'll give your e-mail address the added appearance of being legitimate.

First Contact – When a recruiter contacts you the first thing you need to find out is where the potential job is. You don't have to know the company name, just a general geographic location. Tell the recruiter you need to know so that you can save everyone time by ruling out positions that aren't where you want to work. This'll work best if you're switching cities or states otherwise you'll need quite a bit of detail to be sure that the new job isn't with your current employer.

Right after confirming that the position isn't with your current employer you need to explain to the recruiter what you've been up to. Come clean and be sure to emphasize that only superficial info was changed and that your experience listed on your resume is accurate. If this goes over well, offer to immediately send a real resume to the recruiter for use with his clients. The deception should stop at the recruiter to avoid any HR issues with the actual hiring company.

I've never had to use the above measures so I can't relate any actual experiences, but hopefully this at least gets you thinking. Good luck!

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3 Comments

  1. I find it embarassing, that if a company looks for new employees it's WIDELY ACCEPTED that they stay anonym or use aliases, and us employees should use our real names everywhere spread over the web!

    It's almost NOT possible to get your name OUT of the web afterwards, if it has spread over thousands of "job-search"sites (who pay each other for "fresh names") ...

    Somebody has to start with it, then employers and agencys WIL HAVE to accept it!

    Sincerely, Henry (real name!)

  2. Marios Alexandrou

    Ken,

    If you're looking for a way to have the recruiter pay for damages of some sort, I'd say there's no chance of that happening.

    If you're truly looking for a new job, then I wouldn't try to backpedal or lie your way out of being caught searching for another job.

    However, if you were just testing the waters perhaps to determine if you're fairly paid, that's a valid issue to take up with your employer. You could let your manager know your thoughts and maybe he/she will be willing to address some of your concerns.

    Good luck!

  3. I had a headhunter send my resume to my present employer
    is ther any recource

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