01 Jul How to Look for a Job While Still Employed
In this new, highly changeable economy, skilled talent is in extremely high demand and with the number of opportunities available, the employment market has never looked better for professionals across a variety of technical verticals.
Employers tend to prefer candidates who are already employed (they appear more desirable, are more likely to be current on industry practices and have an obvious track record), but looking for a new job while working full time can be complicated. So, what should you be doing to find a new role without raising any red flags at your current job? Here are our top tips on how to look for a job while still employed.
1. Be Discreet
As you can probably imagine, it’s best to be discreet whenever searching for a job whilst still employed to avoid any awkwardness or the chance your current employer might find out before you’re ready. That means going about your daily business in the same professional manner you always do while looking for new work on the side.
Fast tips for being discreet:
- Keep it to yourself for now – It may be tempting to tell your co-workers about your plans, but it’s best to keep it to yourself. The more people you tell, the more you risk that word will spread and eventually come back to your employer.
- Don’t search with company computers – It would be unprofessional to look for new work using a company computer on company time, and especially so if you message recruiters and hiring managers using your work email address. Consider confining your job search to your spare time at home instead.
Bonus tip: If your email address is not very professional, you could consider making a new account for this purpose.
- Ask prospective employers to also be discreet – Job searching while employed is very common, so don’t be afraid to mention this to recruiters and hiring managers and ask that they keep it quiet.
- Be aware of your network – Gaining employment through your professional network can be an effective way to secure a new role, but accessing this network runs the risk that word will spread. Be careful who you choose to talk to about your job search, and ask for caution if you are ever worried about news spreading.
- Update social media (discreetly) – Prospective employers are probably going to look at your LinkedIn profile if you have one, so it will need to be up to date. That said, if it’s been a while since you addressed your profile then it may require an overhaul that could be broadcast to your network. To avoid anyone asking why you’re making so many spontaneous updates, consider turning off these public notifications for now. Even better, make a note to update your LinkedIn profile regularly over time, so there’s never a need to make big changes all at once.
How do I find references when I’m still employed?
For obvious reasons, you probably don’t want to use your current employer as a reference. So, that leaves you with a few alternatives:
- Employers from past jobs
- Previous team leaders or supervisors
- Current peers whom you’re confident won’t share the news
Again, with all three, there’s nothing wrong with asking them to stay quiet about your job search to anyone other than the recruiter.
One other thing to note is that you may find some job offers are conditional on receiving a final reference from your current employer. In this case, you will, of course, have to confess to your boss about your new opportunity. To avoid any awkwardness or hard feelings, remember to be polite, respectful and transparent when requesting the reference (i.e. speak highly of your time with that employer and show your gratitude to keep the relationship positive).
2. Schedule Interviews Strategically
If you’re competing for a new role then you’re more than likely going to need to go in for an interview at some stage. Given that you already have somewhere to be during work hours, what can you do?
Ultimately, you’ll need to think strategically about how and when you book interviews to ensure you can attend them discreetly and avoid interrupting your current work too much.
Fast tips for attending interviews while employed:
- Consider taking leave – You may wish to take a day or half-day of annual leave. Not only will this mean you aren’t missed at work if you vanish, but you also don’t have to be so discreet on the day and can take time to prepare yourself. This may not be suitable for those of you who must give reasonable notice before requesting leave, as interviews can be scheduled quite spontaneously.
- Schedule them outside of work hours – If it is at all possible, try to schedule your interviews outside of working hours. Perhaps you could go in early in the morning or after work at night. It’s not uncommon for interviews to take place just outside the typical 9-5, with 8 a.m. and 5:30-6 p.m. often being perfectly acceptable.
- Consider if lunchtime is an option – For those of you looking for a new role in a company that is located close by, you might be able to pop in during your lunch break.
- Bring a change of clothes – To ace your job interview, you’ll want to dress to impress. But often, ‘interview clothes’ are more formal than regular casual office attire. If you turn up to work wearing clothing that you wouldn’t normally wear, people will ask questions. We recommend bringing your interview outfit in a bag so that you can change when required.
What not to do:
- Don’t rush: If you need to rush your interview, you may not be able to show off your best self. Cramming an interview into a small space of free time (like a short lunch break) could be more harmful than helpful. Need extra time? Try requesting an extended lunch break or take the day as annual leave.
- Don’t fake an illness: To get around your annual leave notice period, it may be tempting to fake a sick day. But aside from being unprofessional, this could also cause complications – your team may still try to schedule you into a meeting from home or ask you questions about how you’re feeling. Lying is a slippery slope and is best to be avoided.
3. Keep Giving Your Best in Your Current Role
It may be tempting, especially if you feel burnt out or unsatisfied in your current job, to start relaxing your typical work ethic as you begin to see what life could be like elsewhere. However, it is always smart to keep working hard and maintain your standards even as you search because it could help you in future.
Your colleagues, team leaders and managers are all potential references for future job searches and they’re also the people who hold part of your reputation in their hands. If they have a negative experience with you, it could harm your standing in the job market, and if they have a positive experience, it could boost it.
Fast tips for maintaining your relationship in your current job:
- Don’t act prematurely – You don’t have a new job until you’ve accepted an offer and signed the paperwork. Until that point, try not to act in a manner that assumes you have the role. Stay discreet, stay professional and continue to work hard – just in case.
- Try not to burn bridges – You don’t have to like someone to maintain a business relationship. Continue to act professionally while at your current job – you never know when you might need these contacts!
- Maintain a good relationship with your employer – If you have a good rapport with your current employer, chances are they will be happy to be one of your references in future. Even if they’re not pleased you’re leaving, they’ll know it’s just a part of business. Keep your relationship with them strong and don’t be afraid to ask them for their contact details to put on your CV.
- Meet your obligations – Your contract will likely describe a number of obligations you have to the company when you are resigning. Ensure you’ve read them all thoroughly and meet each one. If you can’t meet one or more, don’t leave it until the last minute – talk to your employer as soon as you can (after accepting your new role) to try and pre-empt the problem.
- Be gracious as you leave – When it comes to your last day, be gracious. Thank people, tell them you enjoyed working with them and stay friendly. Again, this all helps to maintain your relationships
There’s nothing wrong with looking for a new job while working in your current place of employment (in fact, it’s often preferable). Some people might be sad that you want to leave, but changing roles is just a part of life. However, to maintain your business relationships when it comes time to search, it pays to be discreet and stay professional at all times.
If you need more advice on how to find a new job while employed and are struggling to job search while maintaining a full-time work schedule, we’re here to help. Speak to our team of Technology & Digital recruitment specialists in Brisbane or Canberra and let’s see what we can do for your career.