texting.jpgOnce upon a time, recruiters and hiring managers tended not to call workers on the job.

Most people respected the fact that employed individuals looking for a job wanted to be discreet about their job search.

Today, all bets are off and it’s mainly because of cell phones and PDAs. Before, a recruiter wouldn’t risk calling you up and getting a switchboard operator, or a colleague, or even a boss on the line.

Now, a call to your cell phone or a text message is commonplace.

But is it smart, cool, or ethical to be texting a hiring manager at another company while you’re sitting in a work meeting or even in your cube?

A did a quick Twitter poll and for the most part people think technological advances have lead to a game changer when it comes to your job search.

This response summed up the general sentiment:

@carisamiklusak despite manners, mobile recruitment is becoming a quickly growing and very effective real-time way to communicate w/ candidates!

It’s all about real-time today, and the economy seems to have made things even worse. There’s a sense out there among job seekers and those seeking job candidates, that landing the gig is paramount and etiquette is flying out the window.

And, recruiters and hiring managers want a life too, so they don’t want to have to be texting you or calling you in the evening or weekend if they can help it, said Andrew Davis, President of Treaty Oak Recruiting, Inc.

“Hiring managers (and believe it or not, recruiters) are people too and prefer to maintain the work/life balance their companies promote to pursue their lives and interests,” he said. “That being the case, while some exchanges can occur after the closing bell, much of the direct communication needs to take place during business hours.”

Some folks looking for work have told me they have to look out for themselves because in this day and age their boss would lay them off in a nanosecond if they decided to. So, why even give your managers the courtesy of not job-hunting on their dime?

It makes sense in some way. But I can’t help but think we should try to stay civilized even in these turbulent times.

One Twitter follower thought texting about work prospects on the job was pretty jerky:

@katefettighill Eve, if I was job-seeking and texted headhunters while in company of current boss, I’d expect current job to end soon thereafter

I know, you don’t want to derail your chances for a new job.

Davis offered some tips on how to balance your need for a new gig and your need to stay polite:

· Remember, you have a job: for whatever reason you want to find a new job you have one now, focus on the task at hand. When you have a free moment, or can make one, use that to handle your job searching communications. Performing your current position well is indicative of what you’ll do in your next one and, as a recruiter, that’s important to my company and my clients.

· It’s a small world: even large industries with tens of thousands of employees are very small worlds. The increased ability of people to move from one job to another, coupled with the improvements in corporate human resource record keeping then magnified by the social networking technology of sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, et al, has virtually eliminated the traditional “six degrees of separation”. If your current employer discovers you looking for a new position while on their clock you can expect that the company will remember (thus impacting any possible return down the road) and creating a stain on your reputation that can, and usually does, make its way through the electronic grapevine.

· They can (and probably are) watching: if you’re using company resources (computer, phone, smart phone, etc) they can easily be checked to determine how they’re being used and on what; they are company property and purchased to function as such. A few clicks by the IT department can block or track anything digitally making its way to-and-from the company.

· Use the muscle between your ears: if there are job searching activities that need to be taken care of during business hours simply use common sense. Try to use your company’s resources as little as possible (if at all); talk at convenient times and places during the day that are not going to interfere with your current work; use personal emails through free sites like Yahoo, Google, etc that do not look suspicious if seen by the company. While I have not officially heard of some being terminated due to searching for a new position on company time it definitely does impact the light under which you are seen if you are “discovered”.

Yes, you will probably be screwed if you’re discovered. Even though most managers know employees are doing what ever they can to protect their job futures, they won’t take kindly to you searching for a job.

Many years ago, I worked for a great, enlightened editor. He, like most editors in the newspaper business, knew most reporters were always looking for the next gig at a bigger paper. When he found out I was looking for a job at another paper he seemed so excited for me. I was open, honest and stupid back then.

I didn’t end up getting that job, but I did end up with an editor who never treated me the same after that.

I suppose the lesson is — be discreet. I know, it seems like insane advice in the age of Twitter and Facebook, but the old rules of job-hunting decorum may still apply.

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