Looking for Work? 6 Job Search Tips If You’re Still Employed

Job interview on calendar

Job interview on calendar | Source: iStock

The best time to find a new job is when you already have one, according to career experts. Many Americans have taken that advice to heart. A third of employees are currently hunting for a new job, according to a LinkedIn survey. Even those who aren’t in active job search mode say looking for work while you’re currently employed is acceptable. Three-quarters of people surveyed by Accountemps said they wouldn’t hesitate to start looking for a new job before leaving their current one, and almost half of younger respondents said they’d conduct job search activities at work.

Although kicking off your job search while you’re still employed is a smart move career-wise, it can cause problems if you’re not careful. Before you start updating your LinkedIn profile and fielding calls from recruiters, it’s important to understand the do’s and don’ts of balancing job hunting with full-time work. To get some insight, we talked to Todd Dean, the co-founder of Wirkn, a job search app that helps job seekers find jobs and connect with local employers, about what you should and shouldn’t do when you’re ready to move on from your current job.

1. Don’t: Job search while on the clock

One-third of workers said they’d feel comfortable searching for jobs or filling out applications while they were at work, a survey by Accountemps found, even though most career experts say looking for work while you’re on the clock is a faux pas, not to mention a clear sign to your employer that you’re ready to bolt.

“Your current employer has access to the sites visited” from your office computer, Dean said, plus there’s the chance your co-workers will see what you’re up to when they stop by your cube. Restricting your job search to evenings and weekends is the safest strategy. If you must take a call or send an email during business hours, use your personal phone, not a computer or other employer-provided device.

2. Do: Keep your search under wraps

male hand holding telephone receiver

Phone call | Source: iStock

Broadcasting your job search is a bad idea, especially if you’re just testing the waters. If your boss gets the idea you’re a flight risk, it could sour your relationship; he might even start looking for reasons to fire you. The trick is to get your name out there to potential employers without tipping off your new boss.

Don’t post your resume to public job boards, Dean said (which aren’t a great way to find a job anyway, according to experts). Change your LinkedIn settings so your network isn’t updated whenever you make a change to your profile or add a connection. Finally, don’t blab about your job search on Facebook or Twitter. Even if you’re not connected to your boss, word could get back to him. When talking to potential employers, ask that they not contact your current employer.

3. Don’t: Let interviews interfere with your current job

If possible, schedule job interviews outside of standard work hours. For one, you don’t want your job search activities to interfere with your current job. Plus, dashing off in the mid-afternoon for an interview may give your boss a clue that something is up.

“If you cannot schedule an interview outside of work hours, request early morning or evening interview times,” Dean suggested, then make up for the lost time by working late or coming in early. Taking a personal day is another tactic, especially if you anticipate a long interview.

4. Do: Keep a change of clothes around

Office attire is more casual than ever, but dressing up for interviews is still the norm in most industries. If your normal ensemble consists of jeans and sneakers or casual dresses, showing up wearing a jacket and tie, tailored sheath, or heels is a dead giveaway you’re looking for work.

“If you can only schedule an interview during work hours, keep a change of clothes in your car and change at the nearest stop,” Dean said. A full-blown costume change may not even be necessary – swapping dress pants for jeans, switching your shoes, or ditching the jacket will make your interview outfit look less formal.

5. Don’t: Slack off at the office

man holding smartphone and smiling

Man using smartphone at work | Source: iStock

You may have one foot out the door already, but don’t let your performance at your current job suffer. For one, your job search can take much longer that you anticipate, so you don’t want to give your employer an excuse to fire you before you have something else lined up. Plus, you’ll want to leave your job on good terms, since you may well cross professional paths with your boss or co-workers again.

“You don’t want to burn any bridges … I have known many people who have left jobs to seek new opportunities, only to return to an employer a few years later,” Dean said.

6. Do: Be honest

Depsite your best efforts, your boss may find out about your undercover job hunt. If she confronts you, be honest that you’re looking for something else.

“Tell them why your current position is no longer a fit for you. This will allow them to prepare accordingly,” Dean said. Some bosses might take your desire to leave as a betrayal, but others accept that employees won’t stick around forever. You boss may even be willing to mentor you as you plot the next step in your career, Dean said.

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