You're sitting at your desk at work all day and you don't like your job or you want to find a better one. The temptation, of course, is to while away the hours looking at job postings, perhaps uploading your resume to apply, talking to contacts who can help, or posting about the trials and tribulations of your job search on your Facebook page or on Twitter.
If you were to do that, you certainly wouldn't be the first (or the only) person to do so. Most people job search during the work week, rather than on weekends, and many of them do it from work. Given the way companies monitor employees it's not wise to use your work computer or email account for job searching. There are also ethical issues with job searching on your boss's dime (even if you can't stand him or her).
Who is Watching You Work
A Proofpoint Survey found that 32% of large companies read employee email. Almost 28% have terminated employees for email policy violations, while another 45% have disciplined an employee for violating email policies. 20% of surveyed employers disciplined employees for improper use of blogs or message boards, 14% for social network violations, and 11% for improper use of media sharing sites.
What you do online, at least when you're doing it from work, is your employer's business and not much of it is private. And the number of companies reading your email is important to note for anyone seeking employment. In fact, almost 17% of the companies surveyed had employees whose primary job is to read or analyze email.
So, it's important to be careful. Here's what you can do to make sure you don't get in trouble job searching from work, or even worse lose your job before you're ready to move on.
Job Searching at Work Do's and Don'ts
Do not use your work email address for job searching. Use your personal account and don't send resumes and cover letters from your work email account or use that email address when you apply online.
Computer and Phones
Don't use your employer's computers or phone system. Keep your resume, your email correspondence, and anything and everything related to your job search on your home computer. Use your home phone or cell phone for job searching calls. Check for messages discreetly during the work day so you don't miss out on important calls.
If you have a blog, be careful what you say on it. People have been fired for comments made about their employer. The same goes for what you write on LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, and other networking sites. Videos posted on YouTube can be problematic, too. A police officer was fired for breach of work rules and policy because of a video of his activities during work showed up on YouTube.
Twitter and Instant Message can be dangerous, as well. Employers can - and do - read what you post or write there, too.
When and Where to Job Search
Use your lunch hour or your break. Visit a bookstore, coffee shop, or library with Internet access on your lunch hour and bring your laptop. This is also a good time to return employer phone calls, especially if you can take an early or late lunch to catch them in the office.
Be careful who you tell that you're looking for a new job. If you tell co-workers, you can be sure that it will get back to your boss, one way or the other. Do tell your family, so they can take messages for you and so they don't inadvertently call work to say someone is calling about an interview.
Build Your Network
All of us should have a network of colleagues and contacts to use for building our career, whether we are currently job searching, or not. Most people's LinkedIn network has lots of contacts from previous employers, their current employer, vendors, customers, and colleagues.
Staying in touch with those contacts, as well as what's happening in your field, can help your employer as well as yourself. Yes, you're positioning yourself for the future, but you're also using a tool that can help you learn about new products and can make connections that could help your company succeed.
Use Your Network
How does that saying go about killing two birds with one stone? Building your network on professional networking sites like LinkedIn can help your employer as well as yourself. For example, a web developer used his LinkedIn network to find someone to help with usability testing for his company's new web site. During the process, he also made a new contact who could help with his future job searching activities.
If You Get Caught
If, despite your best efforts, your boss catches you job searching, here's advice on what to do next and how to limit the damage.