I always believe an engineering workplace should not be a place of anguish and pain but of (reasonable) satisfaction and enjoyment.
One day, however you may decide that the time has come to move on. Your job may have stagnated – growth in the company may have frozen – the company may have hit the wall due to bad decisions or a poor market - or someone may have joined the company and is making your position difficult. So a few suggestions on looking for a job while keeping your boss and the company unaware of your intentions.
Personally, I am a great believer in being open when looking for a job (one of my best bosses at a large engineering company used to help me assess job opportunities in other companies – perhaps he was keen to get rid of me!) but it does depend on your boss and the company hierarchy. Some companies regard it as disloyal conduct and all promotional prospects immediately dry up and you get punished in a variety of (often insidious) ways.
Your Confidential Job Search
A few suggestions in keeping your job search confidential:
Network only with absolutely trusted peers. Many (most?) good jobs are not directly advertised and are hidden. In talking to trusted colleagues outside your firm; you may become aware of the hidden opportunities out there. Obviously, avoid telling anyone close ‘to home’ about your intentions. Otherwise it will get back to your boss very quickly.
Big Brother Does Watch You. Be wary about doing too much job searching while at work. Some companies survey what their employees are up to and your job searching would become quickly evident to your company.
Be Vigorous about Phone Confidentiality. Only take calls from recruiters in your car lot or far away from the office, definitely not in the office or even in the bathroom where someone will definitely overhear your discussions.
Only Work with Professional Executive Search Firms. Insist on confidentiality in your job search process. Make sure you are dealing with a professional in your job search.
Preface all Correspondence with ‘Confidential Candidate’. Ensure all your correspondence has Confidential Candidate spelt out to ensure everyone knows the importance of confidentiality.
Social Networking. Watch out for other lurkers (who may know of you) on social networking sites when examining job opportunities.
Exhibitions and Conferences. Talking about job opportunities in a disinterested way can be a great way of identifying other job opportunities when meeting hordes of other engineering professionals at exhibitions. But again; watch out for hidden contacts with the company hierarchy. Even competitors to your company often feed back unwelcome information to your boss about your (perceived) feverish job hunt.
Theodore Roosevelt remarked: Big jobs usually go to the men who prove their ability to outgrow small ones.
Thanks to the IEEE for a thought provoking article on this topic.
Yours in engineering learning