Everyone, at some point during his or her career, will experience the slightly guilty feeling of looking for work while still employed elsewhere. It’s always preferable to search for a job while employed in order to maintain some level of financial and professional security — not to mention, it looks better to recruiters. Still, it’s a difficult balancing act, especially when it gets to the interview stage.
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How can you look for work without feeling like you’re sneaking around — and potentially risking your current position? Follow these five tips for navigating the job search process while still employed.
1. Keep It Quiet.
Let’s get the most obvious piece of advice out of the way first — because unfortunately, it’s where a lot of people slip up. In the majority of cases, you won’t want your current employer to know that you are looking for a new job. They may perceive this little piece of news as hurtful, disloyal, or even traitorous — and that could quickly lead to some uncomfortable situations for you. The only way to ensure that your search remains a secret is to share it with as few people as possible. That means co-workers, industry friends and contacts, and anyone else who might accidentally (or not) reveal that you’re on the hunt for something new. As hard as it may be, try to only share your plans with people that you trust completely.
2. Don’t Let Your Work Suffer.
It’s easy to get so focused on your exciting job search that you start to let your work slip in your current position. Don’t fall into this trap. Besides sending a red flag to your managers, this is simply an unprofessional move. Keep working as hard as you can to earn the glowing reference you’ll need when you search for your next position.
3. Ask for Confidentiality.
Related to the above point, don’t list your current employer or co-workers as references if they don’t know you’re searching. And as you interview with new companies, be up-front with your desires to keep your search confidential. You wouldn’t want them to call your employer or mention your interview to the wrong person, would you?
4. Don’t Change Your Habits.
You’ll want to look your best for job interviews, but if you show up to your casual office wearing a suit and tie, you’re sure to raise some eyebrows. Similarly, if you suddenly start taking a lot of private phone calls in the hallway or taking extra-long lunches, people will wonder what you’re up to. Play it safe by keeping an interview outfit in your car and making it a point to keep your behavior fairly consistent.
5. Try to Search on Your Own Time.
It’s tough to interview during normal business hours when you are in fact being paid to work at your current job during normal business hours. Some potential employers may even see it as a poor reflection on your character and work ethic if you ditch work for an interview. Be honest about your situation and see if interviewers will work with your schedule, whether that means meeting for an early morning coffee appointment or working it into your lunch break. In the same vein, don’t search for jobs on your work computer or use your company phone or email to communicate with potential employers. Besides being unethical, it leaves behind a digital trail that could cost you your job.
Tell Us What You Think
Have you ever gone on an interview while still employed? Share your stories from on the job, or tips on how to get by! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.