How to Do a Stealth Job Search, with Bernie Reifkind

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Transcript

Mac Prichard:

Hi, this is Mac from Mac’s List. Before we start the show, I want to let you know about my new book, Land Your Dream Job Anywhere. I’ve been helping job seekers find meaningful, well-paying work since 2001, and now I’ve put all my best advice into one easy-to-use guide.

My book shows you how to make your resume stand out in a stack of applications, where you can find the hidden jobs that never get posted, and what you need to do to ace your next job interview. Get the first chapter now for free. Visit MacsList.org/anywhere.

This is Find Your Dream Job; the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life. I’m Mac Prichard, your host and publisher of Mac’s List. I’m joined by my co-hosts, Ben Forstag, Becky Thomas, and Jessica Black, all from the Mac’s List team.

This week we’re talking about how to do a stealth job search.

You’re ready to look for a new job but you don’t want your employer or your colleagues to know that you’re looking.

Our guest expert this week is Bernie Reifkind. He says a stealth job search differs from your usual job hunt. Bernie and I talk later in the show about how you can do one.

Employee referrals offer one of the best ways to find your next job. Ben has found a blog post that shows you how these referrals work. He’ll tell us more in a moment.

What can you do to make sure your resume gets past the automated tracking systems many employers now use? That’s our listener question of the week. It comes from Melody Dawn in Portland, Oregon. Becky Thomas offers her advice shortly.

First, as always, let’s check in with the Mac’s List team, and I want to acknowledge before we start that, Jessica, you’re officially passing the listener question baton over to Becky.

Jessica Black:

I have, yeah, that’s right. So official baton passed.

Becky Thomas:

I got it.

Mac Prichard:

Great. And then, I’m so pleased that you’re gonna remain here with us, Jessica, on the team here in the studio, running the soundboard, but continuing to offer your advice in reaction to listener questions and what we hear from our guest experts.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, I’m excited to stick around too. It’s always fun to be part of the podcast.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, it’s a natural thing to do because, many listeners may not know it but you recently took over the community coordinator position.

Jessica Black:

I did.

Mac Prichard:

It fits in very nicely with your new responsibilities.

Jessica Black:

Thank you.

Mac Prichard:

Well our topic this week is doing what our guest expert calls a stealth job search. In other words, looking for work without your boss or your colleagues knowing that you’re on the hunt. I’m curious, what are some of your best tips when you’ve done job hunting in the past; doing it in a way without  your co-workers or your boss finding out? Want to go first, Jessica?

Jessica Black:

I can. Well number one, I am terrible at keeping secrets. I’m a terrible liar. I can keep other people’s secrets; I just can’t keep my own, because if somebody asks me directly, I will give it all away.

Mac Prichard:

So we’re all plotting questions we’re gonna ask you after the show.

Jessica Black:

Exactly. I’m an open book. That’s the case that I’ve taken but in terms of doing a stealth job search I think that – I’ve said this before, but – I am a big researcher, so I do a lot of research before I kind of jump into all that stuff. So kind of like, looking around, seeing what my next steps might be, thinking about the companies that I may want to reach out to. If I know people that are in those companies, sort of just wrapping my mind around everything before I even make any decisions. But then I start talking to people that I know that are in that field just as a casual, not anything specific, like, ‘I’m looking for a job; can you help me?’ But just kind of a more information gathering sort of sessions there. So, that’s what I would do, I guess.

Mac Prichard:

Good tips. How about you, Becky? How do you look on the sly? Maybe don’t say on the sly.

Becky Thomas:

Oh no, that’s good. Yeah, I think it’s a little tricky because you’re still at your job and you’re still busy and you’re still working everyday. So I feel like it’s best to compartmentalize yourself a little bit. To stay focused on your current job as much as you can and still do a good job, and not let that sort of, senioritis take place. And just, you know, focus on your job during the day and I think it’s best to try to schedule a little bit of time outside of work to do your job search stuff whether it’s like, I have to update my resume, I have to do some networking, things like that. To really focus on the next step but also to stay on top of your work that you’re still doing, You’re still at your job.

Jessica Black:

That’s a good note. I also would add to definitely do that work, that information gathering, after hours, but that’s a good note.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah, because when you’re ready to move, it’s like, “Oh let’s just hang out and look at job listings at work.” And that’s like a recipe for disasters. Do not do that guys.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, don’t because employers have access, obviously, to your computer, and if a search like that pops up that can cause a lot of trouble, and also, you’ve got to bargain with your employer, you’re there to do work on their time.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah totally.

Mac Prichard:

And there’s a time and a place to job hunt, but it’s not at the office.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, and you kind of, to Becky’s point, you still have a job to do and you want to leave on good standings, so you don’t want to be already checked out before you’re trying to leave because you want to leave on good standings and all those things.

Mac Prichard:

Okay. Well, Ben, anything you’d like to add before we move on?

Ben Forstag:

So, believe it or not, I’ve never actually done a stealth job search. I mean, I’ve always either told my employer that I was moving on with a very long lead time ahead of time, or quit the job so I could kind of dedicate myself wholly to a job search. I think the key here is, if you don’t want people to know what you’re doing, work with your trusted network, and be honest. Say, “Hey I’m looking around for other opportunities. I don’t really want it to be out there that I’m looking but if you hear of anything that sounds interesting for me or would fit my skill set, or people who could use the kind of value that I can bring to the table, I’d appreciate you letting me know.” That, and always making sure that when you do apply for a job or when you’re talking to someone, just ask the hiring manager the person you’re interviewing, “Don’t reach out to my employer, until I have the opportunity to tell them that I’m looking for work elsewhere.”

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, good points, and I know Bernie is gonna touch on many of those and make some others as well.

So before we reach out to Bernie, let’s turn to you Ben, because every week you’re out there, looking for resources our listeners can use, and I think you’ve got a good one for us this week.

Ben Forstag:

This week I want to talk about one of the most powerful weapons you can have when you’re looking for a job, which is an internal referral from an employee at an organization. So lots of organizations, when they’re looking to make hires, the first place they go is to their own employees asking, “Do you know anyone who’d be a good fit for this organization?” There’s a lot of reasons employees would go along with the action and bring their friends and contacts into the organization. So I found a blog post called Seven Things You Should Know About Employee Referrals, and this goes through all the different reasons why having an employee referral is such a powerful tool in your pocket.

I’m not gonna go through all of them, but I kind of cherry picked a few stats that I thought were interesting.

One is- when an employee refers someone, the candidate is hired about two-thirds of the time. That means if you’ve got somebody on the inside of an organization, and they refer you into that job, two out of three times you’re gonna get the job if you want it.

Mac Prichard:

That’s a powerful statistic.

Ben Forstag:

It is, especially when you consider the success rate of just a cold application; applying for a job you found on a website. I think it’s like two percent just to get the interview, let alone a job offer.

Here’s another one; sixty percent of employees have referred at least one person to an open position with the company, and thirty-eight percent of employees have referred multiple candidates for open jobs.

Mac Prichard:

Again, powerful statistics and I know we’ve talked before about the hidden job market and how it’s driven by referrals and word of mouth. Another point I like that you’re making here relates to this week’s topic, which is stealth job searches. So how you get the word out that you’re looking and by connecting with employees who are rewarded for these kind of referrals, can make a big difference in a search that you’re doing on the QT.

Ben Forstag:

Absolutely. And I think one of the key things to remember here is that oftentimes when we’re talking about positions where the employer is asking for employee referrals…these are not jobs that ever get listed publicly. They might show up on the internal website of the company, but they’re not put on their public job board, and they’re certainly not showing up on places like Indeed, or Monster, or Mac’s List, or anywhere else. This is like classic Networking 101 of “who do you know”. And that’s the approach the employer’s taking to find those hires.   

So Mac, I have a question for you, have you ever applied for a job through an employee referral?

Mac Prichard:

I have and some of the best jobs I’ve gotten have been through an employee referral.

Ben Forstag:

Care to share?

Mac Prichard:

Sure. I had a position with a Massachusetts office for refugees and immigrants and I was hired to be their external affairs director and the position was publicly advertised, (it was a government job).  The person who invited me to apply who later became my boss, having worked with him in the past and he knew my work, and I think that made a big difference in the hiring process. And that was a terrific job; I got to work with refugee and immigrant groups in the Bay state and this was some time ago when there was actually a federal program to help people become legal residents who were undocumented immigrants. It was a real privilege to run a public service campaign, as I got to do, to help people get through that process.

Ben Forstag:

So it sounds like your experience was with a relatively small organization, right?

Mac Prichard:

It was about thirty employees.

Ben Forstag:

Okay. So the last data I’m gonna share with you is that when we’re talking about small organizations, about fourteen percent of their new hires come from referrals. When we’re talking about large organizations, these are organizations with more than a thousand employees, twenty-seven percent of all the jobs that they fill come from employee referrals. So if you’re looking for a job in a big organization…we’re talking, the Googles, the Facebooks, the GMs, big, multi-national corporations…it really pays to know someone on the inside who can give you that employee referral.

So I encourage you to check out this blog post. It is, again, Seven Things You Should Know About Employee Referrals, and we will have that url in the shownotes.

Mac Prichard:

Great. Well thanks, Ben. Now let’s turn to you Becky.  What are you hearing from our listeners this week and what have you found in the Mac’s List mailbag?

Becky Thomas:

I’m excited to start answering our listener questions. This week’s question comes from Melody Dawn, in Portland, and I think I think it’s a pretty common one that a lot of people are wondering about.

Melody Dawn:

“Hi, this is Melody, from Portland, and I would like to ask for any tips you have on submitting a resume just directly to a job you might find online. These days it feels like, you know, you get the word that they’re getting so many, so regularly, if you haven’t been able to make any kind of direct connection with a potential employer and you’re having to just – what I kind of think of as a cold call – a cold resume email in. Any tips on the resume, the cover letter, what to do to ensure that it has any chance of even getting seen by the employer and maybe actually getting in for an interview? I’d love some tips. Thank you.”

Becky Thomas:

So yeah, this is a common issue. A lot of times you see a job and you just don’t know anybody that works there. You don’t see a name that you can connect with, as far as the hiring manager, and it feels sort of scary to just throw your application materials out there into the ether a little bit.

So I have a couple of suggestions for Melody.

First, you know, we talked about this a lot in the past, I think, so far as trying to get a touch point, trying to get a name of a hiring manager if you can. There’s lots of tools to do this; LinkedIn is probably one of the most powerful. So if you do see the job that you are wanting to apply for on LinkedIn, a lot of times if you go to that posting on LinkedIn it’ll give you a name of the hiring manager,  and it’ll have their profile up as well.

So you can try to find their email through that, and then send them a direct email. I would probably recommend to apply through the preferred method in the job posting and then also go ahead and email that person and let them know that you applied and that you are very interested in the position and just a little bit more of a personal touchpoint as well.

And, you know, even if you can’t find that hiring manager’s name, to really try to differentiate yourself by highlighting your knowledge of the company,any unique sort of connection you might have with the company, and the work. Just to really differentiate yourself from everybody else that’s sending out a cold resume.

Do you guys have any other ideas for Melody?

Ben Forstag:

I think you hit on this but I’m gonna be a little bit more pointed, I guess. Customize, customize, customize. And I think nowadays, when we’re talking about online application systems, an employer can get hundreds, or thousands, of applications for every job they post out there and unless you’ve customized your resume and your cover letter around the keywords in the job description and around your ability to solve a specific problem for the employer, and around your specific interest in the position…you know, answer that question, “why am I interested in this position?”…f you’re not doing that, your resume is just gonna disappear into the ether. I think the more you customize, the better results you’ll have and that might mean that you’re sending out fewer applications but I think you’re gonna have a better success rate in terms of response from folks.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, I agree with that and I want to second your point, Becky, about reaching out to someone after you hit send on the application. Look for that hiring manager but if there’s also someone else who you discovered through LinkedIn or your own network, who works inside that organization, ask her, or him, if they can tell you more about the position and if they would put in a good word for you for the hiring manager because that can make a huge difference. There is probably a stack of a hundred resumes, they are gonna pull eight to ten for interviews, and if somebody comes to the hiring manager and vouches for you, that’s gonna give…it goes back to Ben’s point of a moment ago, about the power of employee referrals. And that can make a huge, huge difference.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah, and I think even if your LinkedIn connection is maybe like an acquaintance, or not super close, I think that employees are also looking for good referrals too. So, even if they only know of you from a networking event or something, but you made a good impression on them, they could still be willing to go to bat for you so yeah, it’s definitely worth a try for that.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah I agree, and I think sometimes people are intimidated; they think it’s a huge lift to ask someone to do this, but hiring managers are looking for people who can help them with the screening process. Just because someone put in a good word for you doesn’t mean you’re gonna get the job or an offer, but it does increase the likelihood that somebody will look into your resume and if you’ve put together a very strong application, as you recommended, that’s gonna get them to pay even more attention to it.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah.

Mac Prichard:

Great, well thank you, Becky, and thank you, Melody for that question. If you’ve got a question for Becky please email her. Her address is easy to remember, it’s becky@macslist.org. Or call our listener line. That number is area code 716-JOB-TALK. That’s 716-562-8255.

If we use your question on the show, we’ll send you a copy of Land Your Dream Job Anywhere. We’ll be dropping Melody’s copy in the mail this week. So get yours as well.

We’ll be back in just a moment. When we return, I’ll talk with this week’s guest expert, Bernie Reifkind, about how to do a stealth job search.

Most people struggle with job hunting. The reason is simple; most of us learn the nuts and bolts of looking for work by trial and error. That’s why I produce this podcast; to help you master the skills you need to find a great job. It’s also why I wrote my new book, Land Your Dream Job Anywhere. For fifteen years at Mac’s List, I’ve helped people in Portland, Oregon, find meaningful, well paying, and rewarding jobs that they love. Now I’ve put all of my job hunting secrets in one book that can help you no matter where you live.

You’ll learn how to get clear about your career goals, find hidden jobs that never get posted, and ace your next job interview. For more information, and to download the first chapter for free, visit Mac’sList.org/anywhere.

Now let’s turn to this week’s guest expert.

Bernie Reifkind is the founder of Premier Search, Inc. His company offers career counseling, strategic planning and executive recruitment services for clients in healthcare and other industries. His customers include CEOs, mid-career managers, and recent graduates.

Bernie joins us today from Los Angeles.

Bernie, thanks for being on the show.

Bernie Reifkind:

My pleasure Mac, I’m a big fan of your program.

Mac Prichard:

Well I’m a big fan of your work as well, and it’s an honor to have you here.

Now our topic this week, Bernie, is the stealth job search. This is when you’re looking for a new job without your employer knowing that you want to leave. Let’s start with basics, Bernie. Why is it important for your employer not to know that you’re looking for work?

Bernie Reifkind:

Well the obvious reason is that you do not want to be caught in a situation where by you get terminated by looking for another job. That’s the obvious. The other part of it is that someone is much more desirable as an applicant if you’re already working than if you’re between jobs. So you want to make sure that you keep your job and obviously the cash flow.

Mac Prichard:

Is there ever a situation, Bernie, where you’d recommend someone leave a job without having another position lined up?

Bernie Reifkind:

If someone is completely miserable or if they feel perhaps they’re breaking a law or something that there’s a moral situation. But other than that, I would encourage somebody to keep their job, because again,  I think you’re more valuable in the workplace, going on a job interview if you are presently employed.

Mac Prichard:

Now let’s say you’ve made that choice, you’re ready to start looking and you don’t have to leave because there’s nothing morally wrong going on at work. Now, you’re not going to tell your boss, but what about your co-workers? Many of us have friends at work, and we turn to them for friendship and it would be natural to confide. Is it a good or a bad idea to let your co-workers know that you’re doing a job hunt?

Bernie Reifkind:

Mac, you make a valid point, because the people we work with are the people sometimes, that we commiserate with and we look at our colleagues as friends. But in reality the people that we work with are not our friends. They might be friends sometime in the future when we’re not working with them. The answer to your question is, I would trust no one at work, and I mean no one. You keep it completely to yourself. You never know how this might get out and who might get the wrong information.

Also, not only to respect your own privacy, but if you’ve once made that decision, you really don’t want other people’s feedback, or try to talk you out of it because no one really walks in your shoes. So I think it’s really important to trust no one and to speak to no one about it from work.

Mac Prichard:

So, we’re big fans here at Mac’s List of networking, going out and talking to trusted colleagues and associates about a search. How do you reconcile that, Bernie, because maybe you don’t tell your coworkers, you don’t tell your boss, they are a vital part of your network obviously, but what about the rest of your network? What do you say to people outside the office when you’re doing a job search like this?

Bernie Reifkind:

Well there’s a couple things. Again, I think you’ve got to be incredibly careful and cautious to whom you share the information with. Networking obviously is important, we do it through LinkedIn, we can do it face to face, but I still think that it’s…you have to be very careful when you’re speaking to somebody. Perhaps, you’re at a networking event, and if there’s someone that you’d like to meet, and you can ask someone perhaps to make an introduction on your behalf to the person with whom you want to meet, and you can find out a little about what the organization does, what you do, and you can remind somebody, or let them know, “Hey, you might want to know this, I’m keeping my eyes and ears open for some good opportunities.”

And when you’re saying that you’re not necessarily saying that you’re aggressively looking to make a job change, but you’re open minded to hearing about opportunities.

Mac Prichard:

And do you think you have any concerns, Bernie, that it might get back to your boss, or colleagues? So like, “I heard Mac was at this mixer the other week at the association and then he was telling people he was interested in..he was open to new possibilities.”

Bernie Reifkind:

You know I think at the beginning of any stealth, or invisible, or confidential search, you have to acknowledge and be willing to take the risk that no matter what you do, your confidential job search can never really be one hundred percent guaranteed invisibility. You can mitigate any possible scenario, but looking for a new job or new career ,there’s a proactive campaign on the risk of exposure. It’s inherent. So I think you’ve got to understand that you’ve got to just lessen the possibility that that could occur.

But if you don’t characteristically attend lots of networking events, start gradually. And if you do attend, you can volunteer to help at the registration desk. It’s a good way to meet everyone without looking like you’re trying to meet everyone. But they’re really effective tool to meet new people and you exchange business cards and you ask people that you know to make introduction on behalf of someone you might want to meet. Get their card for later, you might want to give them a call.

I just think you’ve got to be very, very careful with what you say, and whom you say it to.

Mac Prichard:

So give us examples, Bernie, of how you might have conversations like that, and who you might target? It’s clear you want people to be careful, and they need to be careful about what they say. If you’re having a conversation where you’re exercising that kind of caution, what would you recommend people say?

Bernie Reifkind:

I like to drop the anchor first. What I mean by that is when you’re meeting somebody at a networking event who you think might be someone that you might want to work for or an organization that you might want to work for, introduce yourself and say, “In the work that you’re doing, what are you trying to achieve within the organization? What is it your company’s trying to achieve?” And somebody might say, “Well what we’re doing is, this is what we’re doing.” And then you might say something like, “That’s very interesting, I can totally understand.” And in that, speak to your strengths. It’s almost like an interview, but you speak to your strengths, as it relates to what somebody else is trying to achieve and in so doing you’re suggesting that you might be able to solve a need. And then you can say, “You know, I might be open minded about having a dialogue about helping you achieve that goal.”

It’s sort of an opening that I find to be very effective.

Mac Prichard:

What I like about that suggestion is you’re engaging somebody in a conversation about the professional problems or challenges at work in a constructive way, and you’re positioning yourself to offer advice that could help solve that problem. And I think you know, and long time listeners of the show know, that employers look for people who can solve problems and it does put you in a favorable light, it gets people thinking about you in a way that if they are looking to hire someone, they’re gonna think about someone that’s offering the ideas and solutions that you’re proposing.

Bernie Reifkind:

Absolutely. You know, when we attend these kind of meetings or these kind of networking events, it’s always important to bring the mindset of what you can do for someone else. Take their business card and later on you might be able to call up on them. But it’s very, very affective to ask someone who might be a mutual contact, and ask, “Would it be possible for you to please make an introduction on my behalf?” It’s a very, very, powerful maneuver.

Mac Prichard:

Well I can imagine listeners asking too though, Bernie, “This is great, that’s a long game that the two of you are talking about I need a job next month, or in three months time.” What advice would you have for somebody who wants to do a stealth job search, who wants to make the most of networking, but candidly is eager to start their next opportunity?

Bernie Reifkind:

Number one: make sure that you have an absolutely world class resume. And this being a confidential search, you might replace your name with confidential candidate at the top of your resume as opposed to your name, and you can create and use a generic gmail account that doesn’t include your name or any other information that identifies you. You can remove contact information, you can use confidential with the organization but some of things that you’ve done, some of the accomplishments. But I think this is really, really, important if you need to be that discreet.

But you can also put together a world class resume that at the very top, you put, extremely confidential. And make sure that if you share your resume that you let the person that you’re giving the resume to know to please respect your confidentiality. And that this is a confidential search.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, it’s good advice. I’ve actually been on the receiving end of cover letters that mentioned that the application was being submitted in confidence. One question I get a lot, I bet you do too, is from applicants or job seekers, Bernie, who when I encourage them to update their LinkedIn page, they say, “Gosh, I worry that my boss will see that I’m doing that, or my colleagues will notice that suddenly I’m active on LinkedIn and that’s a surefire signal that I’m unhappy and looking for work.” What advice do you have, Bernie, for people who do want to take advantage of LinkedIn, but are worried that it will attract the attention of coworkers or a supervisor?

Bernie Reifkind:

Well, I think it’s really important to adjust the privacy controls on LinkedIn by selecting who can see your activity feed, and other privacy settings on any other social media that you might use. In addition, never use a company computer to search job sites such as CareerBuilder, Indeed, or LinkedIn. Because in reality, the majority of employers do monitor their staff’s internet use, and your company would be quite displeased if your browsing history revealed these obvious give-aways. These are things to be very, very, careful about, in the world that we now live in, this digital world that we live in.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, and I’m glad you brought up the privacy settings on LinkedIn because I imagine many listeners don’t know they can actually control different connections, and what different people see on their profile.

Bernie Reifkind:

Without question. Now, if you’re between jobs, I think it’s really important to let others know on LinkedIn that you’re available, and I believe it’s very effective to say something to the effect of, “I am now available.” So that people know that you’re available. You know sometimes we look on LinkedIn, I know, in my business and other hiring authorities, you look at somebody’s LinkedIn profile and it looks like a stellar, wonderful background, but one would have no idea that they’re looking to make a change. Not so easy on a confidential search.

But if you are between jobs, “I am now available.” In so doing, you’re suggesting that this is your one chance..you better act.

Mac Prichard:

We talked about the importance of a world-class resume and networking, and taking advantage of LinkedIn’s features. What other advice do you have for people doing a stealth job search, particularly to attract the attention of employers without tipping your hand that you’re available?

Bernie Reifkind:

I think it’s really important to speak to people who might not necessarily be in your circle. They might know other people, and that’s what strong about LinkedIn, which is you can send a message, “Hey would it be possible to speak? I wanted to ask you…have a conversation about a professional referral.” Or something along those lines, but you disguise it. “Here’s my phone number, could you please give me a phone call?” And when you’re speaking to somebody you might suggest, “I’m keeping my eyes and ears open for good opportunities.” Because those words are not necessarily suggesting that you’re out there actively looking, but that you’re open minded to something that might come back.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, I like that.

Bernie Reifkind:

Well one last thing to; be really careful about responding to blind ads in which the name of the company is not given because you just never know where that’s going.

Mac Prichard:

And what dangers are you thinking of here, Bernie?

Bernie Reifkind:

More than one job seeker has applied for the perfect job only to find out that it was their own job that was being advertised, or their own company.

Mac Prichard:

That sounds like a nightmare.

Bernie Reifkind:

A big time nightmare.

Mac Prichard:

Well final question: what happens if your manager or your co-workers find out that you’re doing a stealth job search? How do you recommend people react to that? What should they do next?

Bernie Reifkind:

If it’s your colleagues you might want to ask for privacy; “Could you please not mention this, could you please keep this quiet?” And I think most people, if you ask them to please give me your word that you’ll keep this quiet, I need this confidential… I think most people are willing to accept that. I think if your boss finds out, I think you need to be candid and honest. I don’t think you can lie. You can say, “You know, I’ve been happy here, I’m looking for  a new opportunity,” I don’t think it’s a time when you vent about what’s wrong. You might say, “I’ve been here, I’ve had a wonderful experience here, but I am keeping my eyes and ears open for good opportunities.” I think you need to try to be very, very careful not to vent, or not to make this a therapy session. You’ve got to be very, very careful and be on guard as to the careful choice of words that you use. But you can’t lie.

Mac Prichard:

Well that’s great advice and I think a good point to stop. Now, Bernie tell us what’s coming up next for you.

Bernie Reifkind:

Well we’re about to launch a brand new website and what we’re excited about  is we’re incorporating, actually  speaking with C-Suite Executives. As I’ve gotten further into my career, C-Suites and executives who are caught sometimes between jobs through no fault of their own, they are so used to being on the other side of the desk that it’s an odd thing to be, like I mentioned, on the other side of the desk and how to go about conducting a search at that level. So it’s something that I’ve developed, resources, we’ve developed programs to work with executives.

Mac Prichard:

Well I’ve dipped into your blog a number of times and you have some great content there for job seekers of all levels and I know people can learn more about your work  by visiting http://psihealth.com. And you’ve got a great Twitter handle, Guru 2 Interview. And people, I know Bernie, can also connect with you on LinkedIn.

Bernie Reifkind:

Yes they can. In fact, I would encourage people to do so.

Mac Prichard:

Alright, well thank you for being on the show today.

Bernie Reifkind:

Thank you, Mac. I wish all your listeners all the best.

Mac Prichard:

Thanks, I appreciate it. Take care.

Bernie Reifkind:

Thank you, bye-bye.

Mac Prichard:

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio with the team. What are your thoughts about my conversation with Bernie? Becky?

Becky Thomas:

Trust no one! We were, as Bernie was talking about the sort of co-worker trust thing, I struggle with that, because I do tend to become friends with my co-workers. You’re close to each other, you know each other from work, you spend a lot of time together so, it’s tough to keep the sorts of things closer to vest.But he made some good points as far as if there’s other people you can communicate with or network with as far as your plans and your aspirations and your current co-workers are probably not the best people to communicate that with. But that’s a tough one.

Jessica Black:

I agree that is tough. I mean, I’m a trusting person in general which has gotten me into trouble multiple times but especially, like you said Becky, the people that you develop these close relationships with, it’s hard to not confide. But I did also think, I was thinking throughout his interview, that I think it’s really unfortunate when people are in situations in work environments that it has to be such a stealth operation…that there isn’t an ability to have an open and honest conversation with a boss. And maybe, I don’t feel like that’s a naive statement, but maybe I’ve just been fortunate that I’ve had situations where I’ve been able to let someone know, “Hey, I’m not leaving here yet, but I’m pursuing these goals towards this other opportunity based on my interests.” Those types of things and, “I’m gonna be keeping my options open.” And luckily it didn’t hurt me at all, but I do think that it’s kind of sad when there’s an employer that won’t see that as an, “Oh good for you; you’re pursuing what you want in your opportunities.”

Becky Thomas:

Yeah, and I think that if you’re not comfortable telling them it’s probably because they haven’t opened those doors of communication earlier where you’re sort of open about your career goals. They probably don’t know you that well. That kind of thing.

Jessica Black:

Or it’s that forbidden area and like Bernie was saying, “Don’t do job search things on your work computer” which is good advice but also, that if you are in a work environment where your employer does look at all of the sites that you’ve been on and it’s a really sort of a task master sort of environment, I think that that would make me feel really excited to leave that place because I would be extra enthusiastic to look for another job because it’s such an oppressive environment. So I think it’s really unfortunate when you can’t have the kind of freedom or authenticity to do that.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah, I agree.

Mac Prichard:

I would say about, doing a job search like this, quite often, I think it happens because someone is in a position where there’s no place for them to move up in the company and it could be a small employer, and you work in a position for two or three years, you’ve learned everything you can and there’s no place for you to go so if you want to keep learning and growing you’ve got to move on to another organization. And it’s a positive thing and employers who don’t offer those opportunities recognize that it’s inevitable.

Jessica Black:

Right, yeah, that’s what I was gonna say. It makes a lot of sense, but then you should still be able to open and honest with your employer and maybe not right in your initial stages of thinking it through, but at a certain point. I’m thinking about the confidential applications that he mentioned. I just think that would be so terrible, I don’t know, I guess I’m very fortunate that I haven’t had that situation.

Mac Prichard:

Ben, your thoughts?

Ben Forstag:

Well I was actually going to mention the confidential candidate resume which, I’ve never done that. I think you’d have to very, very concerned about people finding out about your job search to do that. I wonder what the effectiveness of such a resume is.

Becky Thomas:

Intrigue. Makes you seem so mysterious.

Ben Forstag:

True, but you know, one of the recurring themes of our podcast is networking, networking, networking, it’s who you know, and having a blind application is basically saying, “I’m not gonna let you know who I know.” or “I might not know anyone.”

Jessica Black:

Well I think that brings up more questions, like if I received a confidential application I’d be like, “Well why? What’s going on here? Why are they having to go through this secretive thing? Is there something that they’re hiding? They don’t want me to check their background? Have they had criminal history? Have they had something that they’re hiding from and why can’t they be transparent?”

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, I’ve never received a resume that said confidential candidate but my guess would be that Bernie is thinking of people who are in highly competitive industries like entertainment or technology where there’s tremendous competition for people at the highest levels. When I have received, and it’s happened a number of times, a letter where someone in the cover letter said, “Please treat my application with confidence”, it’s because it’s a small town and they’re writing to me and they know I might know their manager

Jessica Black:

Sure, that makes sense.

Mac Prichard:

So I think it’s a sign of respect for their employer that they’re doing that. Also a certain need for privacy on their part because we’re all part of the same community.

Well, great. Well thank you all, and thank you, Bernie for a great conversation. And thank you to our listeners for joining us for today’s episode of Find Your Dream Job.

If you like what you hear, don’t forget to sign-up for that free weekly newsletter. In every issue, we give you all the key points of that week’s show. And we include links to all the resources mentioned. Plus you get a transcript of the full episode.

If you subscribe to the newsletter now, we’ll send you our Job Seeker Checklist. And you’ll find in one easy-to-use file, all the steps you need to take to find a great job. So get your free newsletter and checklist today. Go to macslist.org/podcast.

Join us next Wednesday when our special guest will be Kylie Butler. She’ll explain how to discover the right career for you.

Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job!

If you’re ready to find a new job but want to stay in your current company while you look for a better opportunity, you need to engage your job search in stealth mode. You don’t want your boss finding out that you’ve already got one foot out the door!

This week’s guest, Bernie Reifkind, reminds job seekers to “trust no one” when you’re doing a stealth job search. Even co-workers who have become close friends should not know about your plans. If the information were to slip out, you could be terminated from your current position.

If you are networking as part of your job search (and you should be!) Bernie recommends using certain phrases which subtly imply you are in the market for new opportunities. He also recommends asking others to respect your confidentiality.

A confidential candidate resume is one way to send your resume to respective employers while keeping your personal data hidden. Make sure your resume is world-class, then replace your name with “Confidential Candidate,” set up a new email account and remove any and all personal information.

During a stealth job search:

  • Lock down your LinkedIn with privacy options.
  • Keep your activities private from your current colleagues.
  • Never use a company computer to search.
  • Be cautious about responding to blind job postings.

This Week’s Guest

Bernie Reifkind is the founder of Premier Search, Inc.. His company offers career counseling, strategic planning, and executive recruitment services for clients in healthcare and other industries. His clients include CEOs, mid-career managers, and recent graduates.

Bernie is about to launch a new website for C-Suite executives. You can find out more by following @Guru2Interview on Twitter, or connecting with him on LinkedIn.

Resources from this Episode