Need a New Job? 15 Tips To Avoid Getting Busted by Your Current Boss

Discover the secret strategies to land your dream job without raising suspicion.
Updated Sept. 10, 2023
Job candidates

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Finding a new job may be able to help you stop living paycheck to paycheck. But most employees don’t want their current boss to find out about their job hunt.

Here are 15 tips for searching for a new job without getting busted by the boss.

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Search and apply outside of working hours

Prins Productions/Adobe female student sitting at table using laptop for studying late at night

The last thing you want is for your boss to catch you browsing job listings or filling out an application.

At any point, the boss could walk by your desk, or you could inadvertently share the wrong screen during a presentation. Make sure to do your job hunting outside of your workday.

This is true even if you're just looking for part-time work to make some extra money. When you are at your current job, focus on your work and nothing else.

Only use personal devices

itchaznong/Adobe man checking linkedin app on smartphone

Along the same lines, don’t use your company-issued laptop or other device to look for jobs. It’s common for employers to use tracking software on company devices to monitor employees’ activities.

If you’re updating your resume or scrolling LinkedIn, only use a personal computer or phone.

Quietly update your LinkedIn profile

shurkin_son/Adobe african american woman working from home

Ensure your LinkedIn profile is current with your job history, duties, and other important information.

However, don’t check the box to share these updates with your network, especially if you're connected with your boss or co-workers. You don’t want word to get around that you might be sprucing up your profile for potential employers.

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Don’t check out from your current job

Micah C/ employees having casual discussion at meeting

Another telltale sign someone is looking for a new job is when they withdraw from their current role.

Stay engaged at work and complete projects as you usually would. Don’t give your boss a reason to question your performance or dedication.

Stay organized

shurkin_son/Adobe female freelancer working using laptop

Looking for a new job can take up a lot of time. And when you already have a full-time job, it all can feel overwhelming.

Stay above water by remaining organized. Keep a spreadsheet of the applications you’ve submitted, who you have heard back from, and other essential details.

This can help you keep a clear mind during your search. It can also help you compartmentalize it when you have to focus at work.

Consider working with a recruiter

kucherav/Adobe happy female manager interviewing female candidate

If you don’t have enough personal time to devote to your search, consider working with a recruiter.

A recruiter can help you find jobs for which you qualify. Recruiters also might have access to opportunities you haven’t seen yet, which could get you closer to a job you genuinely love.

Network carefully

WavebreakMediaMicro/Adobe business team at table in seminar

Reaching out to your network can be a great way to find a job. However, tread carefully if you’re still employed.

Go ahead and reconnect with old colleagues or introduce yourself to industry professionals, but be careful if they have mutual connections at your current company.

If this is the case, either avoid telling them you’re interested in finding a new job or ask for their discretion.

Be careful on social media

Urupong/Adobe woman scrolling social media on smartphone

Be cautious on social media. Don’t post updates about your job search or that you’re unhappy at your current workplace.

Such posts could get around to people at your company, who might share them with your boss. In addition, posts about your dissatisfaction with your current job could go over poorly with future hiring managers.

Talk to a trusted co-worker

Y.A./ businesswoman comforting female colleague at work

If you’re truly unhappy at your current job and feel you need some support in the office, choose a trusted co-worker to confide in.

Be sure to tell them you wish the conversation to be kept confidential first.

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Schedule interviews at the right time businessman convincing investors at office

If you need to take a screening call or attend an interview, try to schedule them during times that won't draw attention to you.

For example, consider arranging interviews first thing in the morning, during lunch hours, or at the end of the day. It’s easier to arrive late or slip away early (or get away for lunch) without arousing suspicion.

Take PTO or sick days

A Stockphoto/Adobe man sitting at table using pencil to mark calendar while using laptop to work from home

If you must take an interview during peak working hours, consider taking the day off or calling in sick. 

If you have the PTO, it may be less stressful to relax at home before the interview. Plus, your boss won’t question where you’re going or what you need to step out for.

Ask for discretion

RealPeopleStudio/Adobe woman doing zipping her mouth gesture

If you're worried your potential new employer will contact your current one, explain your situation to the hiring manager.

You might want to ask for their discretion in not contacting your company. It could be a red flag if they don’t at least try to work with you on this.

Mind your clothing

pressmaster/Adobe businessman coming late to work

As you attend interviews during the day, be aware of your clothes when you show up to your current job. If you typically wear jeans and a T-shirt, don’t suddenly walk in sporting a jacket and tie.

Consider keeping your jacket or heels in your car or a separate bag and putting them on outside the office.

Don’t include current co-workers or bosses as references

contrastwerkstatt/Adobe businessman holding telephone and paper

This may go without saying, but don’t list your current boss or co-workers as your references unless you have a strong bond of trust with them.

Work with your network of former colleagues and managers who can speak to your stellar performance in past positions.

Stay positive

Jesse Bettencourt/ business people shaking hand at office

No matter what, keep your hopes up. It can be difficult to manage a job search while still working for your current company, but stay positive.

Chances are good that your hard work will pay off with a job that’s better suited for you. This positive mindset can help you nail interviews as you continue to fulfill your duties at your current job.

Bottom line

Prostock-studio/Adobe businessman talking to candidate at office

If you're looking for a new job to get ahead financially, these tips can help you find the right position without antagonizing your current boss.

Dedicate the time you need to applications and interviews while still completing your work and keeping your current manager happy — and out of the loop.

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Author Details

Liz Lane Liz Lane is a freelance writer who likes to help people understand complex topics like finance. She's passionate about making the most of her hard-earned money and wants to make sure her readers have the tools to do the same. She has worked for NBC, "Inside Edition," "The Dr. Oz Show," and more.

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