It's hard enough to keep up with a demanding boss and your never-ending to-do list, but finding a new job on top of everything else is enough to make even the most organized and on-top-of-it gal feel a little crazed. If you're as guilt-prone as I am, then you may feel a little like you're cheating on your company by sneaking around behind your coworkers' backs. The long lunches, the extra lipstick stashed in your purse, the secret phone calls behind closed doors¿you get the idea. Here are a few tips to keeping your search on the DL.
Nix the guilt: Gone are the days when people would work for the same company for 30 years and get a gold watch at their retirement dinner. Job hunting is a fact of life. Your boss or coworkers may be doing the same thing, so don't feel like you're being disloyal. Remind yourself that a new job will give you a better quality of life and help advance your career. Be sure to make it a routine to check online job engines once a day for new opportunities. Monster's new search-and-match technology will save you time job hunting by returning only a handful of great options that are the most tailored to what you're looking for, rather than returning hundreds of "so-so" options.
Schedule accordingly: Many interviewers understand that you're currently employed and are willing to accommodate a request for an early-morning or late-afternoon interview to minimize interference with your current job responsibilities. If someone insists that you meet with them from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on a Monday afternoon and that is wildly inconvenient for you, consider whether you really want to work for someone who is so inflexible!
Give yourself time to breathe: In an ideal world, you'd take the day off to go to several interviews scheduled a few hours apart and allow yourself plenty of time to prepare mentally and physically. (Plus, you'd avoid giving lame excuses to your coworkers.) In reality, you're probably sneaking out during lunch and praying your boss doesn't notice that you've already had two "dentist appointments" in the past month. I normally take the subway to work, but if I'm unsure of where an interview is or I'm concerned I might be late, I'll splurge on a cab so I can arrive unruffled and on time. Time permitting, you could scope out the address a few days in advance so you'll know where you're going.
Get personal business cards printed: Some companies are totally chill about you fielding calls from recruiters, but my past employers were not. I used VistaPrint to order custom business cards with my cellphone number and gmail address printed on them. That way, I could give potential contacts my digits without scrawling them on a napkin. Personally, I think my cards are a lot better-looking and better reflect my professional brand than my company's logo.
Excel at your current job: If you're kicking butt at the office, who can fault you for taking an hour off here and there? Delegate when you need to, but keep plugging along so you'll earn a solid reference from your boss. Though she'll be sad to see you go, she'll be happy that you're off to bigger and better things.
Career expert and best-selling author of Girl on Top, Nicole Williams is redefining the world of work -- making it glamorous, entertaining and relevant to modern women. Nicole founded WORKS by Nicole Williams in 2006 with the vision of building the first media and content company focused on career development specifically for the highly dynamic and powerful market of young professional women. Her Web site, Nicolewilliams.com, is the go-to destination site for modern working women.