Job hunting when you’re unemployed can be stressful. You often feel pressured to jump on the first opportunity you can find, just so you have a paycheck rolling in every other week.
But looking for a new gig when you already have a job? While it sounds great in theory (at least you don’t have the stress of wondering how you’ll cover rent that month!), there are some definite challenges that come along with it.
How do you make the time to find a new position when you’re already working full-time hours? How can you manage to be subtle about your search—without lying about a supposed “doctor’s appointment” every time you need to sneak out of the office for an interview? How can you be actively engaged in the hiring process, without making it painfully obvious to your current employer that you’re seeking a new role?
These are all questions that pop up when you’re job hunting while already employed, and there’s no denying that they can be tricky to address. But, that doesn’t mean this situation is impossible—after all, plenty of people do it.
So, here are six key things you need to know about looking for a job when you already have one.
1. Finding the Time to Job Hunt
Time is precious, and never is that more true than when you’re balancing a job search with your regular gig. When you’re already working 40+ hours per week, finding extra time to dedicate to your job hunt can feel next to impossible.
Time is precious, expecially when you’re balancing a job search with your regular gig.
The key is to make use of every spare moment. Use your evenings and weekends to write cover letters, peruse listings, and submit applications. Sneak away to a coffee shop or cafe on your lunch hour to respond to some emails. Adequately utilize any small pockets of free time, and your search won’t feel quite as overwhelming. No, it might not be your favorite way to spend your downtime, but it’ll all be worth it in the end.
However, fair warning: While you want to make use of any extra minutes, you absolutely don’t want to do anything job search-related while you’re in your current office—even if it’s as small as printing your resume. Not only is that disrespectful, but it’ll also make you uneasy. You don’t want to have to respond to that email about a phone interview while constantly peering over our shoulder waiting for your boss to come around the corner.
2. Scheduling Interviews
Oh, the challenge of subtly scheduling job interviews while you’re working full-time hours. Finding time and excuses to sneak out of the office at odd times is definitely one of the trickiest parts.
While you don’t always have control over what time your interview ends up being scheduled, it’s best if you can aim for the beginning of the day, the end of the day, or the lunch hour. During those times, you’ll be able to ask for permission to arrive late, leave a little early, or take a longer lunch break—without raising too many red flags. Running out of the office randomly at 2 PM to head to the “dentist” for the third time that month always inspires some suspicion.
One other thing you want to remember? Your wardrobe. Of course, dressing professionally for a job interview is always recommended. However, you might want to consider bringing a change of clothes. Heading into the office in a pencil skirt, heels, and a blazer when you normally show up in jeans and a sweater is bound to get the hushed whispers started.
3. Keeping Things Hush
Here’s a question that comes up pretty frequently: Should you let your boss know that you’re currently seeking a new role?
The answer to this question will vary depending on your employment situation and the relationship you have with your superior. But, when in doubt, I’d stick to the safe side and refrain from looping your manager in on your job search.
Remember, you’re not morally obligated to tell your employer until you’ve officially accepted a new job. And, jumping the gun in sharing the news of your job hunt could lead to strained relationships and tense dynamics—which will be tough to deal with if you don’t actually land a new gig for a while.
4. Dealing With References
Looking for a new job seemingly behind your current company’s back is usually enough to inspire some uneasiness—it’s easy to convince yourself that your employer will find out about your perceived disloyalty any moment. And, this anxiety is only amplified when you see a question that looks like, “May we contact your past and current employers?” on a job application.
Here’s the thing you need to realize: You can absolutely decline to allow prospective employers to contact your existing job. And, more often than not, they completely understand that you want to keep your search on the down low.
So, don’t feel like you have to say yes and then work yourself into a frenzy every time you hear your boss’ phone ring. You are totally justified in saying no.
5. Finding the Right Outlets
Job boards can be a convenient way to find a bunch of job listings that are right up your alley. However, be hesitant to use any ones that require you to post your resume.
Why? Well, chances are good that the recruiters or hiring managers at your current company also pursue those same job boards for prospective employees. And, if they see that you recently posted an updated resume? Well, alarms will start to go off.
There are plenty of great job boards out there that don’t require this sort of thing—as well as other tools such as your own website, direct emails, or even LinkedIn—that you can use to job hunt in a little more low key manner. Just remember to turn off your activity when updating your LinkedIn profile, so that your connections don’t get notified of all of your profile updates.
6. Focusing on Your Priorities
Balancing your job hunt with your full-time job can be a lot to manage—there’s no denying that. But, no matter how packed your schedule, it’s important that you remember that you still need to be committed to giving your all at your current job.
You still need to be committed to giving your all at your current job.
Even if you absolutely loathe every aspect of your position and constantly dream of the day you’re finally able to bust out of there, you owe it to your employer to put in your all when you’re on the clock. After all, that’s what they’re paying you for.
Searching for a new job is always challenging. But, it can become extra complicated when you need to do so while working full-time. Implement these six tips, and you’re sure to make it through in one piece.