How To Job-Hunt While Employed

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One of the great paradoxes in a working person's life is how to hunt for a job while currently employed. On the one hand, it can be a real financial risk to quit your job before you have another lined up; on the other hand, juggling your current responsibilities with your job search can be very challenging. Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking for a new job while working at your current job.

Be Realistic. If you are currently working full-time, understand from the outset that you cannot search as aggressively as you could if you did not have a job. Find ways to work around your current schedule, putting your existing responsibilities before your dreams of a new job. Being as professional as possible will keep your existing connections intact and improve your future prospects.

Do Your Job. Tell recruiters from the outset that you currently have a job and need to schedule interviews around your current work responsibilities. It may seem like an inconvenience, but in fact, potential employers will love to see that you take your current job seriously. Conversely, if you just write off your current employer, your would-be future boss may suspect that you will have the same attitude when working for him.

Use Your Own Resources. Job hunting is not an appropriate use of your current employer's time or resources. Keep any activities related to your job hunt to your own time, including lunch breaks. Likewise, use your personal cell phone and your own computer, not a company phone or your desk computer. Using your employer's resources for your job hunt is a very good way to get fired.

Network Smart. While activities that are directly related to your job search should not be done on your employer's time, nothing says you can't speak to possible future employers while at a work-related conference or event. Use your current job as an opportunity to build connections in your field. Then, on your own time, use those connections to line up opportunities.

Dress Normally. Again, your current job is your highest priority, and your attire should reflect that understanding. Showing up to work overdressed for an interview is a great way to rouse your employer's suspicions. Consider finding a place to quickly change your clothes if you have an interview on a work day.

Be Discreet. If you need to keep your job search confidential, don't discuss it with any of your coworkers. Likewise, if you need to make a phone call, do it away from the office, preferably in a private location where there is no chance you will be overheard.

Be Forthright. While you keep your job search confidential from your current employer, you'll need to be completely honest with recruiters as you go forward. Explain that you need to use past employers as references because you have not yet notified your current employer. If you tell a recruiter that your boss knows about your job search, you risk being exposed during a reference check. Being caught in a such a lie could endanger your current job and your future prospects.

Be Positive. Even if you are hunting for a new job because you can't stand your current job, disparaging your current employer is a bad idea. Use positive language to describe your reasons to find a new job. Instead of complaining about being underpaid, say that you want an opportunity to better utilize your skills and grow in your field. Instead of badmouthing your current supervisor and coworkers, say that you are looking forward to meeting and working with the great people at your new workplace.

Don't Burn Bridges. Even if you absolutely despise your current job, you have nothing to gain and everything to lose by destroying the relationships you have built there. When you are offered a position elsewhere, give your boss at least the standard two weeks' notice. Emphasize your willingness to complete any remaining responsibilities and thank him for the opportunity you had at your current job. Maintain a high standard of professionalism as you leave, and your career will continue to move forward.

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