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Looking for a Job When You Already Have One

Ask The Expert

By Barbara Mitchell

Q: It’s time for me to look for a new opportunity, but I don’t want to quit until I have another job. How can I do my job while searching?

A: You’ve probably heard that it is easier to get a job when you have a job, and — strange as that statement sounds — it’s true. Hiring managers seem to prefer to hire someone who’s already working.

However, as the applicant, you are walking a fine line. You must continue to do your best work for the organization that currently employs you, even if you know you are looking for another opportunity. You always should aim to leave an employer on good terms — not just to get a good reference but to meet your obligations as an employee.

While in your current job, you should also try and get as much experience as you can. Take on extra projects (as long as you think you’ll be there to finish them) or volunteer for task forces or interdepartmental challenges that will expand your skill set.

When you start looking, you’ll want to update your resume and your LinkedIn profile to be sure all your current information and skills are prominently displayed. Tell people you trust that you are looking, but remind them that you don’t want to jeopardize your current employment status. This can be tricky, so be careful whom you tell and when you tell them.

Your job search strategy is just like any job search — network, check job boards of your targeted organizations, and apply. Once you get an interview, it can get complicated when handling time off.

I don’t recommend you suddenly have a lot of medical appointments that take you out of the office for long periods of time — managers see through that pretty quickly — especially when you suddenly start wearing suits when your normal attire is more casual. It is better to use your vacation or PTO leave. It is also acceptable to ask prospective employers if you can interview during lunch or after hours. Be sure to let your prospective employer know that you want to give your best at your current job while you are still employed there — this sends a positive massage as to what kind of employee you will be for them.

Your job search strategy is just like any job search — network, check job boards of your targeted organizations, and apply.

Be smart about your search, and be prepared that if your current employer finds out, your days there may be numbered.

Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR. Do you have a question you’d like her to answer in “Ask the Expert”? Send it to [email protected].

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