Professional etiquette when looking for a new job

  • 01-01-18
  • Geoff Balmer

This time of year, it can be common to start thinking about your accounting career and where it is heading. Some of us are lucky enough to have an open relationship with our Manager so we are able to discuss our levels of frustrations with them, however, more often than not a job search is a clandestine operation full of secrets, stealth and intrigue. This ‘secret squirrel business’ is often out of necessity; an employer finding out that you are looking for your next accounting job can be akin to career suicide. So how do you start your Sydney accounting job search with the professional courtesy your current employer deserves without raising suspicion?


Firstly, use your personal IT devices and email account for anything connected with your accounting job search. Not only is this the right thing to do from a professional perspective, it also avoids the temptation to do your job searching on company time, which is not a good impression to leave your current employer with. There is also a small risk involved in using your work email and computer when searching for a new role. Should your boss drop by and there is a tab open on your machine with a recruitment agency or job board loaded, or the latest job alert suddenly appears in your emails, your commitment could be questioned and alarm bells raised.  Be careful with printers too; don’t be tempted to print your resume off at work the night before the interview. We’ve heard plenty of stories of people getting distracted once the ‘Print’ button has been pressed; answering a phone call or an important email and leaving their resume sitting on the printer for anyone to see the next morning.

Try to avoid loading your resume onto job boards. It is not improbable that your current company could be searching these online resume databases for people with similar skills to your own, and inadvertently stumble across your details.

Think carefully about your activities on Social Media. Obviously, you shouldn’t advertise your job searching on Facebook or Twitter, or change your LinkedIn heading to actively looking for a new accounting role or words to that effect. However, even an employee updating or refreshing their LinkedIn profile can be a giveaway that they may be considering moving on (more details on that in an earlier blog of ours here). The same is true for connection alerts. If your manager suddenly sees a number of LinkedIn alerts announcing the fact that you have connected with accounting industry recruiters, this will set off warning bells.


People often forget that any change to your normal routine in the office can arouse suspicion in an employer and also your colleagues. Disappearing to an empty meeting room to take a phone call is a likely sign of a disenchanted employee or perhaps a personal issue that needs investigating. If it isn’t convenient to take a recruitment call, don’t take it. Although it may seem obvious, if you are looking for a new opportunity, be sure that you have a professional working voicemail! Returning the call or voicemail versus answering it there and then also has the added benefit of providing you with an opportunity to take stock, get your composure and remind yourself of the role you applied for. Feeling under pressure to answer questions on the spot on what could be your dream job, may not turn out as you had hoped if you are not mentally prepared.

When returning a call, try where possible to do this during business hours. A lot of recruiters make themselves available outside of business hours, but it is good to show you’re flexible and also proactive, especially if it is the employer making direct contact. Calling during lunch or simply popping outside for 5-10 minutes (if possible) is the best option.

Once an interview is scheduled, it becomes much more challenging to avoid suspicion and the guilt associated with the deception. Firstly, when organising interview times, try to find ways to ensure they don’t interrupt your normal office routine. Shooting off in the middle of the day for a ‘personal errand’ once isn’t likely to raise many eyebrows, but doing this several times within a short period of time certainly will. This is especially problematic if, like many Accounting professionals, you don’t normally take a lunch break. Be cognisant that a lunch hour is just that and doesn’t allow a lot of time for an interview, let alone the travel to and from. If you are one of those people who tends to eat lunch at your desk but are searching for a new job, try to change your normal routine to keep the rumours at bay.

If possible, the best solution is to try to schedule any interviews at the beginning or end of your day.  At Richard Lloyd, our Recruiters are happy to try to work in with your availability for an interview if office hours don’t suit, however, there is less flexibility if your interview is with a potential employer.  It doesn’t hurt to ask about alternative options, so be open about your availability to try to reduce the ‘interview’ stress.

Another giveaway is your work attire. How often have you heard a comment in the office when someone is a little smarter than normal “Off to a job interview hey”! It is important to look like the professional Accountant that you are, but turning up to the office in different attire from normal, such as a tie when every other day you are without a tie would definitely raise eyebrows. If your interview is with a Recruiter and wearing smarter attire will draw too much attention to you in the office, ask them if it’s OK to wear your normal outfit or consider taking a half day off.  However, if the interview is with a potential employer, get advice on the dress code of the organisation and make the decision about whether requesting a half day of leave to avoid any suspicion is the better option.


The Accounting community in Sydney is tight-knit, and at Richard Lloyd, we understand the pressures and emotions involved in a job search and the importance of ensuring your current job is secure while you are looking for new opportunities (see here).  With several lifetimes of experience operating in the Accounting Recruitment space between us, you can be confident that your job search discussion will always be confidential. Avoid putting your current position or working relationships in jeopardy by calling or emailing us today.

You can also instantly check how your salary compares to your accounting peers in the accounting Sydney market by filling in our Salary Benchmarking Tool.

Alternatively, if you are a business and would If you would like to discuss your staff attrition rates or are after an Accounting Recruiter who will fill the talent void in your business, call us in Sydney today.

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