How to look for a new job (without your boss finding out)

The UK has one of the longest working hours cultures in Europe, with only our Greek and Austrian colleagues putting in more hours that we do. But with around 65% of your typical working week spent at work, how can you find the time to look for a new role?

It is said that looking for a job is a job in itself, which perhaps explains why there is no escaping the reality that some of your job hunting will simply have to take place whilst you are at work.

Of course, it goes without saying that you need to be very savvy in the way you go about it – get caught by your boss and you will probably render any chance of a decent reference from your current employer obsolete.

Here are few do’s and don’ts in order to maximise your job search without risking your current position:

  1. Don’t search on company time:

Pick your time wisely. A growing number of job sites and employer websites allow candidates to quickly apply for roles via their smartphone, which means you could very easily apply during your morning or lunch break.

Whatever you do, don’t apply from your work computer or during office ‘downtime’ – doing so could see your current employer could brand you a ‘time thief’. Even worse, the company you are applying to may also look negatively on you if it is obvious that you are applied for a new job on company time.

  1. Maximise your personal brand:

Make sure you use a formal email address (not your work address of course!). Research published by the University of Amsterdam found that recruiters rate candidates with a formal email address higher than those with an informal one, such as a gmail or hotmail account.

It costs just a few pounds each year to purchase a domain name, but it is a worthwhile investment. Even if your surname is Smith, just be a little imaginative with the domain you choose, such as or

  1. Network, but be subtle about it:

The Legal sector is a very close-knit community and as you progress in your career you will invariably find yourself working alongside someone you have worked with before. Be selective of which firm’s you would like to join and approach with care – especially if you know that the head of HR or senior partner plays golf with your current boss!

Speak to your recruitment consultant and flag any companies you think your current employer may hear about your job search. Also tap into your existing network of contacts, such as ex-colleagues, to see if they have any roles coming up in their firms that may be suitable for you.

  1. Be discreet: 

If you typically wear smart casual clothes to work but suddenly start dressing in a suit or dress, red flags will be raised. Don’t advertise the fact that you are looking for another job. Arrange interviews before or after normal business hours as much as possible. If it’s unavoidable then schedule them during lunchtimes or arrange annual leave for a day and schedule multiple interviews in one go.

  1. Play it safe:

Avoid using your work computer, photocopier or telephones. It may be convenient but it is also risky – it’s too easy to accidentally leave a copy of your CV lying around, you never know who may be passing by.


Even if you have resolved to find yourself a new job, don’t shoot yourself in the foot by making colleagues and your boss suspicious if you start slacking. It can take time to secure the role that you want and even when you do, last minute changes do still happen. So don’t burn your bridges – you could be putting your existing position under threat.