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Tips for a Stealthy Job Hunt While Still Employed
Copyright CareerBuilder, LLC -- reprinted with permission
Now that the job situation seems to be improving, are you one of the people who has been waiting for the right time to make a leap to a new job? Here are some tips for conducting that stealthy search while still employed from Neil Lebovits, president and COO of Ajilon Professional Staffing in Saddlebrook, NJ.

Be smart about email.
Play it safe, says Lebovits. You need to keep your current job until you have a new one. Email watch policies vary by company, so you'll want to use a separate account, like Hotmail, when discussing job search-related items. Plus, employers would rather receive correspondence from personal accounts than from competitor addresses. And most importantly, you don't want to send a message to a potential new employer that you conduct job searches on company time.

Don't wear your interview suit to your biz casual office.
Nothing sets off a red flag like wearing a suit to your dressed-down office. So how should you handle the wardrobe dilemma? For both men and women, suit bottoms (i.e. pants, skirts) are always passable for business casual. Lebovits suggests bringing a shoulder bag/duffle with a jacket in it, and change en route to/from the interview. For women, it is especially easy to wear a casual shell under a suit -- once a jacket and stockings are removed, no one will detect an afternoon interviewee. For men, make sure your shirt stands on its own without a tie and you can easily make the switch.

Be discreet when gathering references.
It all comes down to discretion. Former coworkers who have left to go elsewhere are usually the first ones to turn to if you want to keep your search confidential. However, current coworkers are really the ideal names to pass along to your potential employer. Put a significant amount of thought into who will keep your confidence at your current job. "Oftentimes, people find peers rather than managers to be safer bets," says Lebovits. "As long as your reference can speak to your work ethic, enthusiasm, drive and accomplishments, you don't need to search high and low for a senior executive to speak on your behalf - go with who knows you best."

Use your time wisely.
The breakfast interview is an ideal forum. Meetings scheduled at 8 a.m. are often over in time to arrive at work by 9 a.m. If they run over, any number of reasons can be offered for a delayed arrival. "I'd caution the use of excessive creativity when devising excuses for taking time off," warns Lebovits. "'Personal time' for a relaxing respite is still an acceptable reason for taking vacation time. Those who offer the 'sick' excuse run the risk of being asked to log on and work from home, or at least make themselves available." The best maneuvers are those when an interview can be tacked on to other pre-planned time off (long weekends, etc.) or non-work hours, he adds.

Never stop giving your all at work.
Never stop giving your all, advises Lebovits. Job seekers often experience intense paranoia at their current job. If you devote yourself fully to what you're doing in the hours you're there (and job search with a vengeance in the hours when you're not), you'll continue to get the praise and recognition to keep you on track at your current job. In the end, the possibility always exists that you'll stay. Don't shoot yourself in the foot by causing suspicion where you are and maybe not landing anything else.

Copyright 2004. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority.