Job Search

10 Job Search Mistakes to Avoid at Work

Be smart at the office when you’re on the hunt for your next gig

It can be difficult, applying for your next media job when you’re already employed. And sure, it may seem like a great idea to work on your job search during your nine-to-five—you’re buzzed from company coffee, sitting at a desk feeling productive and all you can think about is channeling that energy into finding that next step on your ladder.

But the situation is dangerous, too: You can lose your current job if you’re caught.

If you’ve decided it’s time to look for a new job, then we’re here to help—especially when it comes to finding job openings—and to highlight workplace pitfalls to watch out for on your way to greener pastures.

Read on, but discretely! After all, having this article open is a true dead giveaway.

1. Changing Up Your Outfit

If you normally show up to work in a polo and khakis (like the State Farm guy) and today you show up in a full suit, everyone’s going to be like, “Well, Dan just came from an interview.”

You have a couple of options here: Step up your work clothes game—would it kill you to wear a tie every once in awhile?—or schedule your interview during non-work hours or take a personal half day for your big appointment.

2. Using Work Email to Reach Out to Prospective Employers 

Not only will the company you’re applying to find this unprofessional, you also run the risk of getting caught.

In many offices, supervisors can easily view your work email, and something with a subject line like, “Submitting Application for Digital Marketing Manager” would stick out like a sore thumb.

3. Checking Out at Work

Think you’ve got a new job on the horizon? Just left a promising interview? Don’t dial your effort down at your current job just yet. Remember, you want to leave on a high note…and not drop premature, clear-as-day signs that you’re on your way out.

4. Listing Your Current Company as a Reference

The best way to deal with this situation—besides never listing your current company as a reference if you’re applying on the stealth—is to let the company you’re applying to know you’d prefer to keep your job search private for now.

5. Printing Resumes or Cover Letters at Work

Don’t have a working printer? Go to Kinkos. Use a friend’s. But your work printer? Just don’t.

There are so many ways using your work printer could go wrong: The printer jams, a coworker sees what you’re printing, the printer log has a file called “Dan’s Resume”. Bottom line: Avoid the company printer at all costs.

6. Telling Your Colleagues

Nobody can keep a secret. Not even Mark from IT. He’s cool, but don’t tell him you’re looking to get out.

Because here’s the thing: Most people tell a secret not with bad intentions, but with the idea that the person they’re telling will “only keep it between us!” (“You promise?! This could seriously get Dan fired!”)

7. Saving Resumes on Your Work Computer

Picture this scenario: Your boss comes over to check something out on your computer and when you minimize your browser window he sees “Dan’s Resume” as plain as day on your desktop.

And that’s only one of the ways to get caught with saved job hunting materials on your work computer. Remember: You’re on a local network and your company can most likely see all.

8. Mentioning Anything on Social Media

Worlds are colliding, ya’ll. There’s no longer a separation between your online life, your work life and your private life. That is, unless you keep things off social media.

Don’t post anything that would even suggest you’re looking for a new job, even if you think you’re being discrete like, “Asking for good vibes from my FB crew! Big day tomorrow! #feelingpositive.”

And while this may be especially tough for someone who works in the media field, resist the urge.

9. Connecting on LinkedIn to Current Coworkers

LinkedIn should really be called “Here’s Who’s Getting Ready to Jump Ship.” Granted, it’s not as catchy as a name (and of course, it’s useful for more than finding a new job), but activity on LinkedIn can be huge red flag to your coworkers and supervisors.

It’s a good idea to wait until after you’ve landed your new job to connect with colleagues. And if you’re already connected to coworkers, make sure to hide your profile updates.

10. Posting Your Resume to Job Boards

Chances are, hiring managers or recruiters at your company will be using the same job boards to look for new talent that you’d post to.

Especially in the media industry, it’s a small world, and nothing says you’re looking for a new job than you posting your resume. So don’t do it.

Searching for greener pastures in your career? Check out Mediabistro’s job board, where top media companies are looking for top talent right now. 

Like what you’re reading? Sign up to get our best career advice and job search tips.


Get Hired, Job Search