Now is a great time for finance and accounting professionals to conduct a job search. As the economy bounces back from its pandemic-induced slump in many sectors, companies are adding new positions faster than they can find talented candidates to fill them.
However, just because job seekers have the advantage, it doesn’t mean they can skip the “seeking” part. There are still employment boards to browse, LinkedIn profiles to update, resumes to polish and interviews to attend. Some of these tasks are time-consuming and tedious — no one’s idea of a fun Saturday afternoon. The temptation, therefore, is to do some of the groundwork during weekday working hours.
There are several reasons you should resist this impulse — or at least proceed with caution. If your boss notices that you’re less engaged and productive, this could reduce your chance of getting a good reference. Worse, there are the consequences of being caught, which range from awkward to awful. Your employer might rap you on the knuckles and tell you to be more careful — or they might dismiss you outright.
Here’s how to keep your intentions under the radar until your new job is a done deal.
Tips for keeping your search in stealth mode
The following four strategies can help you ensure your job search activities are truly discreet — and successful.
Be smart when using social media
Avoid even hinting at your career change intentions on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You’re far more likely with those channels to tip off your boss about your plans than you are to catch the eye of a hiring manager. Instead, focus your efforts on LinkedIn, the main shop window for professionals.
Update your page regularly: Suddenly overhauling your profile after two years of letting it gather dust could telegraph your intentions. Finally, if you want recruiters to find you but don’t want to enable the “open to work” feature, make sure your headline and “about” sections are packed with SEO-friendly keywords highlighting your skills and experience.
Don’t use company equipment and resources
Firms take cybersecurity seriously these days, so assume that your employer can read anything you write on a work device. Switching your browser to incognito mode won’t help. Nor will working from home if your computer remains connected to the firm’s network. If you must communicate with a potential employer during work hours, do it on your own time (during your lunch break, for example), on your own device and in a non-work venue.
Schedule interviews outside business hours
Landing an interview means you’re under serious consideration for a new position. In your excitement, you may be tempted to agree to the first interview slot you’re offered. Perhaps you figure you can slip out during the late-afternoon lull at your current job?
In reality, rushing the process will make you more stressed and less likely to make a good impression, whereas negotiating a time that doesn’t leave your employer in the lurch speaks volumes about your work ethic.
Consider taking a personal day or half-day so you can feel composed. Even if your interview will be via video conference, no hiring manager wants to strain to hear you over the background noise of your local Starbucks.
Team up with a talent solutions firm
Landing yourself a new role in finance or accounting can be a full-time effort in itself. Take some heavy-lifting out of your employment search by partnering with a specialized recruiter. Instead of furtively scouring job boards in the office or sending speculative applications, you can rely on the recruiter to find employment opportunities that align well with your skills, experience and interests and help you connect with hiring managers.
Search for finance and accounting jobs on the Robert Half website.
What to do if you get caught
Some managers have a sixth sense when it comes to restless employees, so don’t be surprised if your supervisor approaches you during your job search and initiates a conversation about your future.
Don’t try to cover your tracks. Conducting a discreet job search is one thing; lying to your boss’s face is quite another and may lead to an irrevocable breakdown in your working relationship, which is never wise even if you feel sure you’ll get the new job. Instead, use the conversation to discuss your reasons for wanting to leave. Perhaps your request for a flexible work arrangement has been repeatedly pushed to the back burner, or maybe you’ve reached the ceiling in your current position and need a bigger challenge.
If you provide your employer with fact-based reasons, you may find your boss to be surprisingly sympathetic. If compensation is your issue at your current job, for example, you could use resources like the 2022 Salary Guide from Robert Half to objectively show that your pay is falling behind that of your peers. A raise or an improvement in your benefits package may be all it takes to re-energize you in your role.
This range of possible outcomes illustrates the importance of staying flexible when hunting for a new role in accounting or finance. If you can operate under the radar, do so. If you can’t, be as transparent as possible about your intentions and turn things to your advantage. Above all, focus on performing your current duties and responsibilities to the best of your abilities. Whether you end up leaving or not, it emphasizes your professionalism.