We spat a little bit of tea out when we saw The Sun’s front page yesterday. No, we weren’t faced with monster rats, more Jimmy Savile allegations or even a big photo of some fleece-clad unknown dangling a caterpillar into their mouth as part of some Bush Tucker Trial.

No, we were all aghast because there was a photo of Dean Gaffney on the cover. Not in a mean way, though. We’re not opposed to the ex-Eastenders star, we were just a bit surprised that he’s gone on record, giving an interview to say that he’s going for a job in MI5.

Because, and this is the most obvious thing about what is called the ‘secret service’ – you’re not meant to tell anyone – apart from one of your family or one significant other – that you work for them. And this isn’t just for gun-slinging spies and the like, but for every single person who works in either MI5 or MI6. On the website, it clearly states: “You should not discuss your application, other than with your partner or a close family member.”

We won’t get into why Dean Gaffney decided to tell the world about his application, but it has made us think a bit about who you tell about your job application and when. Is applying for a job like getting exam results – where you’re either happy to tell people about your results or keen to hide them away? Or is it something entirely different?

Here are some tips on who to tell, when to tell them and what to tell.

1. Parents – there are two sides to telling your parents. If you mention a job application or an interview, they’ll probably be (or should be) very happy for you. But perhaps as soon as you mention it to them they’ll nag you at every waking hour?

If you know they’re the naggy types, wait until you have got an interview or the job itself before telling them, as it’s a bit more solid and can be seen as something of an achievement, or at least a milestone on your way towards that dream job.

If they’re not naggy types, then tell them, and pick their brains for any tips they might have. It’s tempting to think that parents don’t really know much about how things are these days but they really are quite similar to you, with one of the only differences being that they’ve seen it ALL before.

2. Friends – this is simple. If your friend is competing with you for the job, do not tell them! Under no circumstances tell them! Well, unless they ask. In which case, it’s probably best for you to tell them a simple “yes, I have” then move the conversation on. It’s all very well comparing notes if neither of you get the job, but to talk about what you did to apply will only upset one or both of you and it might not even be worth all of the hassle the one-up-manship would cause.

If you’re not competing with your friend with the job? Tell them if you like, but don’t talk their ear off about it. As well as it being pretty boring for them, it’ll be a bit embarrassing to have to tell them if you didn’t get the job.

3. Colleagues – it’s probably best not to tell any current colleagues that you’ve applied, because even if they are your friends, they’re not obliged to be your friends, and the only reason why you chat with them in the first place is because you work with them.

4. Your boss – NO WAY NO HOW. Although you might want to stick it to your current boss that you are applying for other places and you’re not happy where you are, there is every possibility that you will not get the job and all you’ll be left with is an angry/disappointed boss who knows you don’t want to be there. If you get the job, you need to check out your contract and see how much notice you must give. Mention it in any interview you have with the next employer, though, as this will be very helpful for them.

5. THE INTERNET – Even though every employer in the land is meant to be entirely ethical, if you’re applying for a media-related job, especially one looking for someone with a ‘strong social media presence’ then you will be checked out by your potential employers. They won’t like a bragger as much as the next person. Though it’s tempting to tweet “en route to an interview”, not that many people will care anyway. Also – what about the boss, colleagues and competing mates you’ll have following you on there!?

So, who are you meant to tell? If it’s a secret that you’re finding gets in the way of your every thought, tell one person about it. A teacher or a university’s careers service, or even email us at GoThinkBig if you’d like advice on something specific. Otherwise, concentrate your energies on researching the company and applying well and on time!

Also, never tell Dean Gaffney. He can’t keep secrets.