If you are feeling unhappy in your current job, struggling to reach higher levels of your organization, or considering a new career direction, looking for a new job may be a good option. Seeking a new job while you’re currently employed has clear advantages. As conventional wisdom tells us, it is often easier to find a job when you already have one. Additionally, you are typically in a better position to negotiate employment terms when you are employed, as there is often a lower sense of urgency and desperation.
While there are clear advantages, there are also disadvantages to searching for a new job while you’re employed. Here are 7 strategies for seeking a new job while in your current job.
1. Have a clear plan
Because you don’t have the luxury of time, you need to focus your efforts. Before you begin your job search, know exactly what you want: position, level, salary, benefits, work environment, travel requirements, etc. Know what you are unwilling to accept as well.
If you do your homework ahead of time, you can focus on the opportunities that best align with what you want. If you are unclear about what you want to do next, but know it’s time for a change, consider working with a career coach or other career professional to help you clarify your career direction.
2. Stay focused on your current job
It can be challenging to maintain focus at work, particularly if you’re unhappy in your current job, or excited about your new career prospects. It is important that you remain fully committed to your current role, however. For one thing, you don’t want to raise suspicions. There is no guarantee that you will find a new opportunity immediately, so you don’t want to risk your current job while searching for a new job.
Second, maintaining professionalism will help you leave on the best possible terms. Even if you hate your job and can’t wait to move on, it is always best not to burn bridges. You never know when you may cross paths with, or need references from, former colleagues in the future.
3. Don’t openly discuss your plans with co-workers
Even if you have great relationships with your co-workers, it’s best not to confide in them about your job search. Exposing your job search plans can be very risky. Your decision to explore other options could be perceived as an act of disloyalty, and subtle or direct action may be taken against you. You could be shut out of new projects or important meetings. You may even find yourself on the chopping block if your company views you as someone who is uncommitted to the organization.
Until you have a firm offer from a new employer, don’t discuss this with your manager. As many job seekers will tell you, a strong interview, and even a verbal offer, are no guarantees of employment, so don’t take anything for granted until it’s in writing.
4. Network with people you trust
While it’s not advisable to share your job search plans with co-workers, you may want to discreetly share your plans with others in your professional network, including employees from other companies in your industry. Those who know you and your work are best positioned to recommend new, hidden opportunities, as well as champion you with decision makers. Just be sure to be selective, and stress the need for confidentiality.
You may also want to consider approaching a headhunter. Particularly if you are an executive, he/she will have access to hidden job opportunities that align with your skills and experience. And because of the nature of the work they do, they understand the importance of discretion.
5. Be cautious about social media
Don’t broadcast your job search activities on social media. Even if you think your privacy settings are set appropriately, it is always best to be cautious. Make sure that your friends and family refrain from discussing your plans on social media as well.
LinkedIn is a very powerful job search tool. It is very common for professionals to update their profiles and actively engage with the tool, so this should not raise any flags. Be sure, however, not to actively promote your interest in finding a new opportunity.
Lastly, don’t post your resume on the job boards. Many employers search these databases and if your resume is visible to your employer, it could raise suspicions and negatively affect your current job.
6. Don’t use your company email or phone
This should go without saying, but it’s remarkable how many professionals use their company email and phones for personal use. When searching for a new job, use your personal email. Many companies monitor Internet usage and it’s always safer to err on the side of caution.
Additionally, always use your cell phone instead of your work phone. Even if you have an office, privacy is never guaranteed. You will also likely be making these types of calls outside of work hours, so you’ll want your contacts to be able to reach you out of the office.
7. Be respectful of your current employer
Regardless of the circumstances under which you are leaving, never talk badly about your current employer with new job prospects. When asked why you are leaving, always deliver a positive message.
Additionally, don’t engage in questionable or unethical activities that could harm how prospective employers perceive you. If you are disrespectful to your current organization, potential employers may perceive this as a character trait and assume that you will do the same in your new job.
The process of searching for a new job while you’re currently employed can be complicated. You’ll likely find yourself needing to make judgment calls as you navigate the gray area. If you have questions, or encounter challenges, find a mentor, career coach, or other resource to help you. Most importantly, remain professional and ethical in your job search efforts. Doing so will greatly increase your chances for success.