Do you ever worry that the company currently employing you as a nurse practitioner will discover you’re looking for a new job? Believe it or not, having a job while looking for another really is an ideal situation. Current employment makes you a more attractive nurse practitioner candidate as it shows to prospective employers that you are hireable and in demand; whereas searching for jobs as an unemployed NP raises questions for potential employers and puts you on the defense as to why you’re not currently in the workforce.
Your current situation also allows you the safety net of being able to buy yourself some time in pursuing an opportunity that you really want and will thrive in; allowing you to not have to take just any position out of desperation. Not to mention, you also have more leverage in negotiating your next employment contract and can more easily make demands to get the offer you want.
But being on the hunt for a new job (some tips for doing so as a new grad…) while you’re employed elsewhere can be risky business. While certain circumstances such as relocation can warrant an open discussion with upper management, other circumstances such as looking for a new job due to workplace unhappiness is typically something you want to keep mum on until you’ve planned your exit strategy and given an official resignation. Should your current employer find out about your endeavors before you’ve had the opportunity to share the news yourself, he or she might take it personally, begin leaving you out of opportunities for growth or worse, may even begin taking steps to terminate you. Just how do you pursue other opportunities without your current employer finding out?
1. Don’t tell anyone you work with
If you tell one person, you might as well tell everyone; loose lips sink ships after all. Keep your nurse practitioner job search top-secret, even from those colleagues whom you think are your most trusted confidants. Word usually travels fast in healthcare and once it does, it’s sure to make it’s way to your boss. Your support staff may also lose respect for you as their authority making delegating patient care tasks an awkward arrangement.
2. Don’t Perform Job Searches on Company Equipment
Never use your employer’s email server, computers, fax lines or telephone systems (including company issued cell phones) to apply for positions or to communicate with potential employers. Not only is there the potential for your boss to catch you in the act, but it’s not uncommon for companies to monitor their employees’ website activities. Posting your company phone number or email address as your contact information not only increases the risk of your current nurse practitioner employer finding out, but it looks inappropriate to potential employers and may raise questions about your integrity.
Though tempting, playing hookie and faking an illness or dentist appointment is risky even when it’s not for a job interview. Instead use a vacation day or take a personal day as you’re less likely to have to give an explanation for why you need the day off. If your schedule doesn’t allow for any time off during the week, plan the interview before work as a breakfast meeting, during your lunch break (which are scarce for NPs!), or after work. Prospective employers are often understanding of your need to meet during non-work hours in order to keep things discreet, so don’t be afraid to be honest with them. If they’re serious about bringing you on as a nurse practitioner, they’ll be more than happy to accommodate your availability.
4. Don’t dress different than you usually do
If you absolutely must schedule your interview on a day when you’re slated to work, don’t draw attention to yourself by showing up in attire that you wouldn’t normally wear. For example, if your uniform consists of scrubs and a lab coat, don’t show up in a pantsuit. Arrive to work in your regular uniform and keep your interview outfit in your car to change into (just be sure to change somewhere discreet where you won’t be seen by your co-workers!).
5. Use caution when posting your resume online
Before you post your nurse practitioner resume onto a job site, familiarize yourself with the privacy features available and contact the company’s customer service department if you aren’t sure how to adjust the settings. Some sites will allow you to post your resume confidentially, which hides your contact information. Otherwise you can remove identifying information from your resume before uploading; replacing your name with “Confidential Candidate” instead and describing your current employer in more general terms rather than listing the company’s name and location. LinkedIn is a great network for connecting with potential employers; however ensure that your job search pursuits are kept private by adjusting your settings so that your activity doesn’t show up in your feed. You can also hide who you are connected to and what groups you are a part of.
6. Reach out to recruiters directly
Posting your resume on job boards runs the risk that your current employer may come across it. Instead consider reaching out to healthcare recruiters directly with your cover letter and resume. As long as the recruiter does not work for your employer, you really don’t have to be worried about your superiors finding out.
7. Ask that your interview be kept confidential
While most recruiters are discreet, it doesn’t hurt to be very clear that you do not want them to reveal your name to potential employers until things get serious. If you plan to send your resume to a potential employer directly, adding a line to your CV that asks that your candidacy be handled with discretion is not uncommon. Likewise, you can directly ask prospective employers to keep your relationship confidential until you’ve given an official resignation to your current employer. Most employers will appreciate and be understanding of your wishes to maintain professionalism at your current place of employment.
8. Stay focused at your current job
As difficult as it is not to mentally check out, continue to perform at or above your current performance level. Doing so will show respect and professionalism to your current employer, and it will keep any red flags from being raised. Searching for another nurse practitioner job (here’s what to do when you get the offer!) as well as the interview process can be very time consuming, but if you suddenly stop performing or have a bad attitude, people will know something is going on and it’s only a matter of time before it catches the attention of your boss as well.
If your supervisor does confront you about your quest for a new NP position elsewhere, be honest and try to open up a discussion about your unhappiness. Discussing the challenges you’re facing may lead to improvements towards a better work environment and an improved relationship with your current employer. Maintaining professionalism and being honest will keep you from burning any bridges with your current employer.
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