Whether you want a change in career direction, you want to increase your salary, or you feel ready for a role with more responsibility, career experts agree that looking for a new job while employed is the best approach.
Not only does it let you continue earning while conducting your job search, but it also reflects better on you to prospective employers.
Nevertheless, looking for a new job while you're already employed does come with its challenges. Below, we'll explain why this approach is a good career move and go over some of the dos and don'ts involved.
It’s OK to look for a job while still employed
Most people will have around 12 different jobs in their lifetime. This average means that, at some point, you're going to need to look for new roles while still employed. And that’s OK. In fact, it’s recommended.
Waiting until you are unemployed to further your career is a risky approach. Job searches can sometimes take a year or longer before being accepted for a role, especially if working in a specialised or competitive field.
If unemployed, you might find this time to be hard on your bank balance. With financial pressure comes stress, which can impact your performance in interviews and potentially cause you to accept roles you might not have otherwise.
To find roles that can help propel your career then, it's best to search for new roles while still employed. Most recruitment companies will recommend conducting a search for roles once every 3-6 months, even if you're happy in your current role. New roles can offer interesting challenges, better pay, and help develop new skills.
Not only is it safer, but it looks better too.
Prospective employers prefer candidates that are already employed as it shows them you're performing your current role well. Being unemployed and having gaps on your CV can send the wrong signal to employers implying you might have been fired, walked away from your responsibilities, or worse.
Tips to find a new job while still employed
- Don’t use company time
It's important to remember that you're still employed. This means you're being paid to perform a role for your current company, exchanging your time and skill for a salary. Using this time to look for other jobs is unprofessional and can land you in considerable trouble if caught out. Look for roles in your own time to avert trouble.
- Use your network
There are a tonne of jobs that aren't advertised on job boards or websites. Known as the hidden job market, these jobs are found through acquaintances and connections.
Leveraging your professional network, reach out to people who work for companies you know are hiring. These can advocate for you and often get you an interview without going through the CV stage of recruitment.
Your network can also help you to know the qualities employers are looking for, giving you the best chance come the time of the interview.
- Don’t ignore LinkedIn
Love it or hate it, LinkedIn is now an essential career tool. On LinkedIn, you can find recruiters, CEOs, and headhunters who are almost always on the lookout for talented individuals.
LinkedIn provides an easy way to make yourself known by commenting on posts and posting your own insights regularly. Be sure to also have your profile up-to-date and looking its best. Remember to turn off profile update notifications so your current employer is not alerted regarding any changes.
- Keep things on the down-low
While it might feel sneaky, it’s best to be discreet about your job search. While employers can’t fire you for looking for another job, it will not put you in good standing with them and can make your life more difficult.
To prevent this, be careful where you post your resume, avoid job boards, and keep your LinkedIn profile neutral. Only tell people you trust about your job search as deliberately or accidentally revealing your plans could spell trouble.
- Schedule interviews carefully
Be sure to schedule interviews with prospective employers during non-work hours. This could be first thing in the morning, during lunch breaks, after work, or on weekends.
Remaining productive at work is the best way to remain professional and also not alert employers to your job search. If scheduling is difficult, book a day off work. For this reason, it’s recommended to bank some holiday time for interviews when looking for new career opportunities.
- Be honest with prospective employers
Hiring managers understand the difficulties of looking for new jobs while already employed. It’s best, then, to be upfront and honest with them and explain that you are exploring your options while still working for your existing employer.
Informing prospective employers that you’d like to keep the process confidential is fine. This is common practice and will mean they understand why your current employer might not be used as a reference.
- Remain professional
Throughout the process, it’s important to remain professional.
Prospective employers don’t like hearing candidates bad-mouthing existing or past employers as it reflects badly on them. It implies the candidate might do the same to them in the future and can come across as short-sighted.
Instead, focus on the benefits and positive sides of your existing job but explain your reasoning for moving forward with your career. This way, you come across as diplomatic, rather than someone who burns their bridges.
You should also remain professional at your current workplace too. This includes not taking job search-related calls during working hours and not using work computers to search for jobs. Not only is it unprofessional, but office networks are often monitored for such activity.
You should always be on the lookout for new career opportunities, even if this means leaving your current employer. Modern society expects people to change jobs more regularly and conducting a job search while already employed is now the norm.
Above all, remember to remain professional and discreet to avoid difficulty. Should your job search take longer than expected, you’ll be glad your current boss doesn’t know you’ve been looking elsewhere.