How to job hunt while on temporary layoff or furlough

Need to look for a job during COVID-19? Here are some tips on how to job hunt while on temporary layoff or furlough.

Have you been temporarily laid off or furloughed during COVID-19? Or maybe you’ve had your hours cut and it’s becoming an untenable situation. If so, you might find yourself in the tricky situation of hoping your employer will bring you back to work or full-time hours but waiting so long that you really need to start looking for a new job. And because your employer has promised to bring you back, you don’t want them to know you’re looking.

Job searching behind your employer’s back is not ideal, especially when your boss is probably struggling with the same uncertainty you are. But you have to pay the bills, and if you can’t rely on their understanding, you don’t have much of a choice. You probably have to start looking while keeping it a secret. This is not easy but it’s not impossible. By taking a few simple precautions, you should be able to look for new employment without your current company finding out.

Here are 4 tips for job searching while on temporary layoff or furlough:

Job search with your own assets on your own time

If you have had your hours cut and are still employed in any capacity, don’t look for a new job on your current employer’s dime and don’t use your company computer or email address. Your employer might be screening your emails and you don’t want a prospective employer to see you using company assets for your job search. That will make you look like a bad hire, and is truly just bad form. Use your personal phone number and your own devices.

Tell prospective employers about your situation

Alert hiring managers to the fact that you don’t want your current employer to learn of your search. Many companies offer you a box to check with your application stating that you don’t want them contacting your current workplace. Don’t forget to check it. You may also include a note saying, “Please keep my application private during the hiring process.” If your resume and other application materials state that you’re still employed, it’s actually unlikely that a company is going to call up your company and ask about you, but spelling it out might make you feel better. People don’t want to be the reason that you lose your job and should be sensitive to this.

Keep it from all of your colleagues

Don’t tell anyone you work with that you’re job hunting. If you’re still in contact with colleagues, keep it a secret. You might think you can trust them but you don’t know and it’s not worth the risk. This also means that, unless you have a very close colleague/friend who you’re 100% sure will keep your secret, you’ll have to look elsewhere for references.

Be smart on social media

Unfortunately, your situation is such that you probably should not blast the information that you’re job seeking. This means that using LinkedIn’s “Open To Work” frame is not a good option, nor is broadcasting the news to all of your connections in a public post. What you can do, however, is reach out through individual messages. You can also post on Facebook in such a way that allows only certain people to see it. This is a good way to reach key people while excluding others.

It’s a tough time, made tougher by being in this situation. Hopefully your existing workplace will find themselves in a position to bring you back. Or you’ll get a new job. One of these will happen. Stay positive and have hope.

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