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How to Sneak Out of Work Without Getting Caught and Other Job-Search Tips

When you’ve got a job interview, here’s how to get to it without raising red flags at work, says Allison Hemming, author of Work It!: How to Get Ahead, Save Your Ass, and Land a Job in Any Economy.

Dress Rehearsal
In the golden, olden days of “The Organization Man,” everybody wore the same gray flannel suit to work. Today’s dressed-down style can be problematic for those of us who have to dash out of a casual workplace for a high-powered interview. Here are some quick-change tips to keep the suspicious minds at bay:

  • Keep your suit in your car.
  • During the winter, take off your suit jacket at the same time you remove your coat, keeping it inside and tucked away from view.
  • Wear half the outfit. Put the tie or scarf back on after you leave the office for the interview.
  • Change at a friend’s office or the office of your headhunter.
  • Do a quick change at your gym.

How to Sneak Out of Work Without Getting Caught
The ugly little truth about interviewing is that unless you want to waste one of your precious few vacation days, you will have to invent excuses to get out of work. Nobody likes to fib, but you don’t want to get fired for disloyalty, either. The easy excuses — business lunches and doctor’s appointments — wear thin pretty quick, so here are a few diabolical plans that will keep your boss nice and clueless.

Work-imposed conditions. Sneaking out of my firm was like getting off “The Rock” — damn near impossible. The best excuses to throw at management are work-related conditions you need to check out, like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Even if they don’t care about you, they understand as “management” that there is little they can do but pretend to be concerned if they want to avoid a potential lawsuit.  — Wendy, Webmaster

Have a plumbing emergency. If you have an early morning interview, you can leave a message on your boss’s voice mail saying that you have a “plumbing emergency” (i.e., the toilet in the apartment above yours overflowed, so now there’s a big leak in your bathroom, and you have to wait for the plumber) so you’ll be late to work. (For added effect, call from the bathroom with the sink and tub running in the background.)  — Beth, Account Manager

Fake a meeting. Tell your boss that you’re taking a client meeting, when in truth you’re really on an interview. One time I did this and really lucked out, as my interview happened to be in the same building as one of my clients. After my interview, I popped my head in the door to say hello to my client. Later, my client mentioned to my boss how nice he thought it was that I came by to check on things. Score!  — Alison, Project Manager

Lie like a rug. I hated my new job and had to get out! The only problem was that my new boss was super-neurotic and had an unwritten rule: no one on her staff is allowed to take time off during the last two weeks of every month. This made it nearly impossible to get out there and meet new employers. A couple of weeks before I thought my interviews would be in full swing, I started telling everyone at work that I had taken up jogging and was really into the sport. (In reality, I hate to exercise!) At eleven p.m. the night before the interview, I drove to an emergency room and used the pay phone there to call my boss’ voice mail. With sirens blasting, I left her a message that I had sprained my wrist while jogging and informed her that I wouldn’t be at work the next day. While I was at the interview with my prospective new boss, flowers arrived at my apartment from my worried co-workers. Confession: I felt a bit guilty, but was relieved that the ruse had worked. From that day on, I wore an Ace bandage on my wrist every day to work. This way, if I needed to sneak out for a meeting, people would believe that I had a doctor’s appointment. I ended up getting offered a new job almost immediately (although I did spend a small fortune on Ace bandages at the local drug store).  — Barbara Ann, Financial Analyst

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Allison Hemming, author of Work It!: How to Get Ahead, Save Your Ass, and Land a Job in Any Economy (Copyright © 2003 by Allison Hemming), is the founder of The Hired Guns, an interim workforce agency. She lives in New York City.

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