While looking for new employment, there are several challenges and risks. Here’s how to go about your job search - the right way.
It’s difficult to find a new job while still working. On the one hand, having a job makes you more appealing to potential employers. However, one error and you may be fired or damage your reputation. Here’s how to conduct a successful employment search while still employed.
1. Consider various options where you are
Consider why you want to leave your job and explore options for improving your circumstances where you are. This will be determined by the degree of trust that exists between you and your boss; don’t go overboard and start telling everyone at the workplace.
Consider what’s getting you down at your existing job and whether some modifications might improve things. Is it feasible to switch departments? What can you do to make your present job more pleasurable and satisfying?
If the answer is no, or if making any modifications isn’t an option, then take advantage of the opportunity and go.
2. Consider becoming a boomerang employee
If you left a previous position on good terms, it’s worth contacting your former coworkers to see whether anything new has opened up. You’ll spend less time learning the ropes, because you’ll already be familiar with the firm’s technology and culture, and you can often provide much more quickly. Now is the era of startups, and that’s a positive thing. Rehiring boomerangs cut down on both time to fill and time to onboarding.
Finally, you may “boomerang” with companies that didn’t hire you by reconnecting with connections from before. If you interviewed for a job at another company and received an offer but declined it, it’s worth re-engaging.
Go back and tell them, “I’m currently looking at different options, and I was really impressed with you and your firm, even though taking a position wasn’t the best option at the time.”
3. Strategically time your job search
If you’re looking to get a job while you’re still working, you need to keep the number of open positions low; that means getting the timing of your search just right. The late summer is a good time to start your search, as the quantity of available jobs stays consistent, but the number of active job applicants falls.
4. Keep your job search a secret
It’s never a smart idea to mislead your boss, but it may be unavoidable if you want to keep your job. Some businesses have a policy of firing individuals who are actively seeking employment. So, while looking for work, keep a low profile. An innocent mistake by a nice coworker might lead to termination or tarnish the company’s reputation.
However, if your employer asks you directly, don’t lie. One option is to respond by stating, “There have been a lot of changes here recently. I don’t want to leave, but I’m concerned about Plan B.”
Even your clothing may betray you. If you normally wear business casual apparel but appear in a suit and tie for an interview, it’s an indication that you’re interviewing. Try to schedule interviews during the day or before or after work, or prepare yourself by changing clothes so you don’t expose yourself.
5. When looking for jobs, don’t divert company time and money
It’s never a good idea to conduct your search on your employer’s time or dime. During office hours, your current employment should take precedence. Underperforming will raise red flags for your employer and coworkers, suggesting that something is wrong. It’s unethical and inconsiderate, and it won’t get you great recommendations when the time comes.
Recruiters understand that discretion is often a necessary ingredient in the process, and they’ll go to great lengths to keep things quiet, so be upfront with them. Make appointments and conversations during off-hours or lunch, and make sure your CV specifies specific times when you can be reached.
When you’re ready to leave your current job, use a different email address and new phone number for your social media presence. Avoid using your current work phone number or company email address for this. One bad phone call or email might jeopardize your present role. Remember, you need to protect your reputation.
6. Use social media to look for new employment
LinkedIn can be a job seeker’s greatest ally if you know how to use it properly. Start with LinkedIn but don’t update your professional profile when hunting for a new job - that will give away your intentions.
If you’re updating your LinkedIn profile substantially in hopes of finding a new job at a different company, you need to take some precautions, as it can tip off your current employer.
You also should avoid making public comments about your job search on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as many organisations monitor those sites for employee activity. If you must use these to help in your search, make sure your profiles are locked down and any job-hunt-related posts or messages are private.
7. Use your network
The majority of employers feel that referrals from their current employees make the best hires, so reach out frequently to friends, family and former colleagues to find out what roles are available at their companies.
Networking can be tough while juggling a full-time job, but there are ways to make it work. Try scheduling early morning coffee dates, either in person or via a video call. Or meet for lunch, dinner or drinks to talk about opportunities.
You also should research to see whether professional organisations or companies are holding networking or career events in your area.
8. Don’t be careless with your cv
Be selective about whom you give your resume to, and explain to those recipients that your job search is confidential. Don’t post your resume on public job boards, either, as that’s a pretty blatant way to get ‘found out.’
Spamming your cv at any time is bad business, especially when you’re currently employed. If you are currently employed, even providing your cv to be privately circulated is a risk. There are no secrets.
9. Don’t bad-mouth your current employer
Regardless of your situation, bad-mouthing your company or superior isn’t going to get you a new job — it’s a major red flag for hiring managers and recruiters. It’s important in the interview to remain positive and focused on what you bring to the table.
Avoid bashing your old company at all costs, even if your boss is the reason you’re leaving. Think of something positive to say, or keep comments very general and shift the conversation to a positive about your performance.
10. How to handle references
Have at least three solid references from different employers; only use someone from your current place of employment if you trust them not to spill the beans or if they’ve recently left the company themselves. Accidentally using your current boss or supervisor as a reference likely won’t sit well with them if they get blindsided by a potential employer’s phone call. References should be given upon request only, according to West, and even then, done with the express caveat that your job search is confidential for the time being.
So, if you’re currently working but thinking about moving on, make sure you’ve done all your homework and are putting yourself in the best position to get the job you want before leaving.
Discover your next role with Leo Xander
Do you want to continue your career in the life science or construction field? Leo Xander is now looking for contract and permanent employees to work in a variety of departments, including project controls, process & project engineering, validation & quality, and automation & IT.
Discover how you can use your talents to help the world’s leading biotech companies innovate. Find out what life science and construction jobs are available where you live by exploring our career opportunities list.