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How To Job-Hunt While You're Working

I write about bringing life to work and bringing work to life.

I was a Fortune 500 HR SVP for ten million years, but I was an opera singer before I ever heard the term HR. The higher I got in the corporate world, the more operatic the action became. I started writing about the workplace for the Chicago Sun-Times in 1997, but it took me ages to find my own voice. Now I write for the Huffington Post, Business Week, LinkedIn, the Harvard Business Review, the Denver Post and Forbes.com and lead the worldwide Human Workplace movement to reinvent work for people. Stop by and join us: http://www.humanworkplace.com


Employers love employed job-seekers. You can start a job search any time, but when you’re working at a full-time job, your job hunt will have to be handled differently than it would if you were a free range chicken job-hunting from your couch at home.

To start your stealth job search, you’ve got to know what kind of job you want next. You get to choose — you are employed, and that makes you a favored applicant! At the same time, you have to choose. Why go through all the trouble of changing jobs to make just a tiny step forward toward your goals or to make no forward movement at all? You need to  know what you want.

The answer is not “I want another job.” Let’s say that you can get hired anywhere in a few weeks. What do you want apart from just a different place to go to work in the morning? Here are some ideas:

  • I want to learn more about social media (or Finance, supply chain management, etc.)
  • I want to have more career advancement potential at my next job.
  • I want to earn $X.
  • I want to work in a more human and friendly environment than the one I work in now.
  • I want to have a leadership role.

Whatever you decide your goals are, you’ll brand yourself for the opportunities you really want. Your branding is very personal, if it’s done well. Read this story about how to put a human voice in your LinkedIn profile Summary, and this one about how to write a Human-Voiced Resume.

If you work on your LinkedIn profile as you prepare to launch your under-the-radar job search, go to your Settings and turn off outgoing notifications about your LinkedIn profile updates.

Once you’ve got your resume set to go and you’re  happy with the branding in your LinkedIn profile, your next step is to build a Target Employer List. Here’s how to do that! 

Now that you have a Target Employer List to work with, start your research! Read up on each of the organizations on your target list. Look for their LinkedIn Company pages and read the LinkedIn profiles of their executives.

Read the company blog and scour its website so you understand what the business is and get a sense of the culture. How corporate is the place, versus how creative? How long have they been in business? These are clues.

A stealth job search takes time and energy. What’s the point of that time and energy investment unless you’re going to a better place? Check out your target employers carefully. Not all of them deserve you!

Once you’re confident that a particular organization is worth pursuing, find your particular hiring manager and compose a Pain Letter to him or her. In your Pain Letter, you’re not going to mention a job ad or a job opening. You don’t even know whether your hiring manager has a job opening right now or not. It doesn’t matter!

As long as he or she has Business Pain,  you can start a conversation.

It’s a new day in the talent marketplace. The Human Workplace is already here. Start a stealth job search now and you could be in your new job by Labor Day! Isn’t that something to look forward to?

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