I recently started a TT job at a decent research university. I I feel lucky to have landed it, and it's been ok. But let's just say it's not what I thought it would be (for those currently on the market, places really do put on the best face when they're recruiting you!) — the program is not in great shape, the financial situation is pretty bad, about 50% of junior faculty over the last 5 years have left for various reasons, it's hard to attract good grad students and even harder to fund them. It's manageable for now, I can get research done, but it's pretty clear the question is *when* and not *if* I go back on the market and try to move up.
So my question is, when and how does one do that? I've always heard that everyone kind of expects that junior faculty are often/always on the market, but how do you do that without offending your colleagues? Do you let your department chair know you're going on the market or keep it under wraps unless/until there's an offer? And in terms of perception from the places you're applying, how soon might appear too soon? Is it too soon to already start applying before you've had time to be there for a few years (i.e., could this hurt your prospects if search committees think "why is s/he already applying when s/he just started a good job")? And what do people think of the line in cover letters asking that the search committee keep things confidential because your home department doesn't know you are applying? Some people have said that looks bad, but I've certainly seen it.