5 Tips on How to Conduct a Confidential Executive Job Search

Career advancement, a shift in passion, better benefits, burnout, or career transition are some of the triggers that might possibly motivate you to rewrite your executive resume and launch a confidential executive job search. We often consult with clients who are currently employed and in need of help with their job searches.

Clearly, this is a very sensitive aspect of your career and should be approached with extreme caution in order to preserve your professional reputation and livelihood. In some cases, if your current employer discovers that you are considering leaving, you may find yourself unemployed sooner than you had planned. Below, we have provided some of the best resume tips for strategically and discreetly targeting prospective employers during a confidential job search.

1. Tap Into the Hidden Job Market

You have probably figured out by now that many employers wish to fill crucial positions within their companies without posting or advertising them. With that in mind, you should consider tapping into this hidden job market as a way to reach out to prospective employers without posting your resume on career sites/job boards or uploading it into someone's ATS.

Write a good executive resume with the goal of getting it into the hands of the hiring manager. By networking with trusted individuals within your professional community, volunteering, or following target employers on LinkedIn, you can maximize your chances of connecting directly with the intended recruiter or hiring professional.

2. Edit Your Resume for Privacy

In the event you feel the need to post your resume for an executive role on an online job board, keep in mind that your present employer may also be on that job board to source active and passive candidates. If you want to avoid an awkward one-on-one meeting with your boss, try replacing your name with "confidential candidate." Add your city, state, zip code, mobile number, and a professional email address that does not include your first and last name.

You can also replace the specific name of your current employer with a less descriptive title that reflects your industry – for example, "Major Healthcare Distributor." Some word processors, like Microsoft Word, store your name as the author of a document. This can be changed by going to the "Properties" menu in Microsoft Word. Make the title of your position the name of the file. Don't use any identifying details.

This is an area in which you should exercise great caution, as we live in a digital age and nothing is 100 percent secure.

3. Adjust Your LinkedIn Settings

One of the first things the majority of employers do before making a hiring decision is check their candidates' online presences. They naturally lean toward people who have strong, positive online brands versus those who have negative brands or limited visibility. The trick is getting noticed by a desired employer without setting off any warning bells for your current one. One of the first things you can do is turn off your "broadcast" settings on LinkedIn prior to making any updates to your profile.

Remember that your resume and cover letter for an executive position should read slightly differently from your LinkedIn profile. Your senior leadership resume should be more succinct, achievement-driven, and very focused on key roles. Conversely, your LinkedIn profile should be written in the first person and convey more of your personality, in addition to your value, passions, career trajectory, and defining moments.

4. Connect With Target Recruiters

Engage with a select group of targeted, trusted recruiters. Be sure to share that you are executing a confidential job search. During your initial conversation with any recruiter, ask them to give you advance notification of any leadership opportunities that your professional resume will be submitted to. Send the recruiter a thank-you letter in appreciation for their time and their help in keeping your job search confidential.

5. Provided References Who Are Not Affiliated With Your Current Employer

It is often a good idea to have three personal and three professional references. Be sure to use trusted references and obtain their approval before naming them on your application.

Joyce Harold is an award-winning resume writer. She operates Resumes by Joyce.