Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

The art of the secret social job search

How to explore options without raising suspicions

Social media has become a top way to promote a personal brand and find new jobs. According to a 2015 survey by Jobvite, just 4% of recruiters don’t use social media as part of their process. But if you’re already employed, how do reach out without offending your current boss?

NAIT academic adviser Taylor Witiw, who hosts social media and networking workshops for students and grads, says you have to be careful. Before you log on, he recommends sitting down with your current employer to express a need for a change. It may not be easy, but Witiw says most employers appreciate the honesty.

However, if that’s not possible, here’s his advice for using social media in a covert job search. 

Invite conversations

Include calls to action in your social media posts. “It doesn’t have to be in your summary or bio,” says Witiw. Share a public LinkedIn post or Tweet that encourages conversation about your area of expertise.

“You could say ‘I’d love to discuss the work we’re doing, please send me a message,” says Witiw. That way, you can show your willingness to chat about the industry and make new contacts without openly signalling you want out of your current job.

“Networking is an information exchange. You can keep your ear to the ground, and then you might have an in.”

"You can keep your ear to the ground, and then you might have an in.”

Tailor your posts to the job

If you’ve set your sights on a particular position, share articles that are relevant to it. But don’t go overboard.

“I wouldn’t set yourself up as being one type of professional and then only post and discuss something else,” says Witiw. Strike a balance between sharing information related to the job you have, along with content related to where you’d like to be.

Take if offline

Witiw says having visible online conversations with industry colleagues is a good start. But be aware of a change in tone.

“If that conversation goes down the route where they’re talking employment, I would make it more secret.” Switch to direct messages, or ask for an email address to continue the conversation and explore future possibilities in private.