Most of us have an aversion to risk to some extent. So when it comes to moving on from your current job to a new one, life can get a bit tricky, even during the best of times. Right now, most of us are focusing on getting through each day, trying to work from home, dealing with the stress of being in essential services, or worrying about being stood down or let go. Maybe you’ve been made redundant, forced to go part-time, or you’re worried that your job is at risk. The good news is employers are looking for people and candidates are finding new jobs in many sectors.

LinkedIn reports that 40 million users search for jobs on the platform each week (as at October 2020) and many applicants are successful: 3 people are hired per minute on the platform (again, as at October 2020). The competition for open vacancies is undoubtedly fierce and for those who are currently out of work, job-seeking often feels like a full-time job in itself. For those still employed and looking to transition for reasons of job security, promotion or simply because they’ve had enough of their current role, putting in a good day’s work without arousing suspicion that other horizons are looking more attractive is tough.

Maintaining enthusiasm for the job you have, while searching for the opportunity you desire, is an emotional journey involving fear, excitement, and even a sense of betrayal. If you have a good relationship with your current manager, you may wish to discuss your future options; many of us, though need the cloak of anonymity – the risk-free solution.

Here are some tips for negotiating this tricky situation.

Be strategic when networking for job opportunities.
We all know that lots of jobs are found using your network of professional and personal contacts online and offline. Either way, it’s hard to openly start job hunting without the risk of your manager hearing about it on the grapevine. Don’t start telling everyone that you’re on the lookout for a new job or that you’ve had enough of your current one. Instead, casually begin conversations within your networks, saying that while you’re doing well in your current position, you’re always actively considering new options and planning your next big challenge.

Don’t use your work email, computer or phone.
There is a good chance that your employer monitors your communication in the workforce. As working from home has flourished, so too has employee monitoring software. Tools used for this include keylogging, screen capturing, email communication and internet browsing. If you want to keep your job search under wraps, it’s best to only do it on devices you own.

Organise your interviews appropriately.
Fitting interviews into your workday can be tricky. There are only so many times you can say you have an appointment without raising suspicions. As the first step, check if the interview can happen before or after working hours. If the prospective employer can only interview you during business hours, let your manager know you have a personal matter and need to take some annual leave time.

Don’t let your clothes give you away.
If you usually go to work or log into online meetings casually dressed, you’ll raise eyebrows if you turn up in a suit and tie. Be sure to change into interview attire and switch back if need be.

Provide appropriate references
The best approach to providing references is to offer the names of previous employers, a trusted colleague who can vouch for your performance and a character reference willing to verify the information listed on your CV is correct. If they insist on a reference from your supervisor explain that you haven’t disclosed you are looking for new roles and that you’re happy to provide that reference if an offer is made. Many organisations will agree to make you a job offer subject to a reference check.

Tell your manager about new job offers in a timely, considerate manner.
Once you’ve received an offer you’re interested in, organise a private conversation with your manager to let them know. You certainly don’t want them to hear the news from someone else. Give them professional, objective reasons for moving on, and offer to make the transition as smooth as possible. This may mean you offer a reasonable amount of notice (not necessarily just the minimum required). You should also finalise or handover outstanding projects, and prepare procedures and handover notes for whoever may fill your position in the future.

Leaving on good terms with your manager and colleagues always pays off! Not only will you strengthen your professional network and build a positive reputation, but you never know who you might work with in the future.

Of course, before you spend any time searching for new roles, please ensure your CV and LinkedIn are up to date, look contemporary and target roles that interest you.