The Do's and Don'ts of Searching for Jobs From Work

Woman working in office
Photo: Georgijevic / E+ / Getty Images

Can you safely job search from work? If you’re sitting at your desk, silently hating your current role, you might be tempted to while away the hours looking for a new position. 

If you were to look for a new job while toiling at your old one, you certainly wouldn't be alone. According to a survey from Willis Towers Watson, about a third of U.S. employees are actively looking for work. You can bet that many of them do so while on the clock with their current employers. 


Given the way companies monitor employees, it's unwise to use your work computer or email account for job searching. Avoid using company resources, including work time, to further your job hunt.

You don’t want to get fired for looking for a new job—and you could be. It’s much easier to leave on your own terms than to be forced to do so because your employment was terminated. There are also ethical issues with job searching on your boss's dime (even if you can't stand them).

Key Takeaways

  • According to a survey, 78% of companies use employee monitoring software to track remote workers’ productivity. 
  • Don’t job search using employer resources such as your corporate email account, network, or computers.
  • If your job search is secret, don’t talk about it on social media. 
  • Use your network but keep your contacts in the loop, so they don’t accidentally reveal that you’re looking for a new job.

Who Is Watching You Work? 

According to an ExpressVPN/Pollfish survey, 78% of employers use monitoring software to track their remote workforce. Over half of those employers tracked their team’s time spent on apps and/or monitored their screens in real time. A third utilized periodic screen capture technology to see what their employees were looking at during their workday.

But it’s not just remote workers who need to worry about employers snooping on their screen time. A Gartner report showed that half of large U.S. employers were using monitoring techniques like analyzing employee email data and social media usage. 

Legally, employers are within their rights to use these techniques. What you do online, at least when you're doing it from work, is your employer's business and not much of it is private. Therefore, it's important to be careful. 

Do's and Don'ts of Job Searching at Work

The best way to job search discreetly from work is to do all of your job-hunting activities on your own device. It’s also important to manage your time carefully, so you don’t get caught.

Use Your Personal Email Account

Do not use your work email address for job searching. Use your personal account—don't send resumes and cover letters from your work email account or use that email address when you apply online. Another option is to set up a free email account using Gmail or another email provider, specifically for your job search. It will make it easier to check the correspondence you’ve sent and to track applications when you have everything in one easy-to-access place.

Don't Use Your Work Computer or Phone

Don't use your employer's computers or phone system. Keep your resume, email correspondence, and anything related to your job search in the cloud or on your home computer, tablet, and phone. Use your personal phone for job-searching calls and texts. Check for voicemail discreetly during the workday so you don't miss important calls.

Check Your Privacy Settings

Before you start job searching, check the privacy settings on all your social accounts. Make sure that your posts are viewable by the right audience. There may be some content that might benefit your job search if it’s work-related. Other posts might make a prospective employer think twice about hiring you. 


Pay special attention to your LinkedIn settings. You probably don’t want your employer to see how busy you are updating your LinkedIn profile, so adjust your activity broadcasts accordingly.

Watch Your Online Comments

If you have a blog, be careful what you say on it. People have been fired for making comments about their employers. The same goes for what you write on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites

On the flip side, social media can give you terrific exposure. Post news and information about your industry and career field (where relevant), especially on LinkedIn. It will help you to be noticed by employers.

Search on Your Own Time

Use your lunch hour or your break for job-hunting activities. During your lunch hour, visit a bookstore, coffee shop, or library with internet access, and use your phone, tablet, or laptop. This is also a good time to return phone calls from prospective employers, especially if you can take an early or late lunch to catch them in the office.

Be Discreet

Be careful whom you inform that you're looking for a new job. If you tell co-workers, you can be sure that it will get back to your boss, one way or another. 

When you’re talking to networking connections, ask them if they would treat your job search confidentially. Advise them that your current employer isn’t aware of your job search, and you’d like to keep it that way.

Build Your Professional Network

Each of us should have a network of colleagues and contacts to use for building our career, whether we are currently job searching or not. If you’re like most people, your LinkedIn network includes contacts from previous employers, your current employer, vendors, customers, and colleagues. 

Staying in touch with those contacts and keeping abreast of what's happening in your field can help your employer as well as yourself. Yes, you're positioning yourself for the future, but you're also using a tool that can help you to learn about new products and make connections that could help your company succeed.

Use Your Network

You can kill two birds with one stone: building your network on professional networking sites like LinkedIn can help you and your employer. For example, a web developer used his LinkedIn network to find someone to help with usability testing for his company's new website. During the process, he also made a new contact who could help with his future job search.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is it easier to find a job when you’re employed?

Studies have shown that employed workers are more likely to receive job offers than unemployed ones. Employed job seekers also receive higher starting salaries than their unemployed peers.

At what age does it become harder to find a job?

Job seekers aged 40 and over are 68% less likely to receive job offers than younger candidates in a non-age-blind job application process, according to research. This is true even though discrimination against job applicants aged 40-plus is illegal under federal law.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Willis Towers Watson. "2022 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey." 

  2. ExpressVPN. "ExpressVPN Survey Reveals the Extent of Surveillance on the Remote Workforce."

  3. Gartner. "The Future of Employee Monitoring." 

  4. American Bar Association. "How Much Employee Monitoring Is Too Much?" 

  5. Federal Reserve Bank of New York. "How Do People Find Jobs?" 

  6. National Bureau of Economic Research. "Age Discrimination in Hiring: Evidence From Age-Blind vs. Non-Age-Blind Hiring Procedures," Page 17. 

  7. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. "The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967." 

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