Matt Tarpey, CareerBuilder writer
If you’ve ever been on the job hunt, you know it can feel like a full-time job – which makes it all the more difficult to find and land a new opportunity when you’re already employed full time.
The hassle this represents is enough to keep many workers in positions they’re unhappy with for years. But by following these six easy tips, you can avoid the pitfalls and be on your way to a new job without alienating any of your colleagues.
Prioritise. Time is a precious resource when it comes to job hunting, particularly when you’re currently employed. Properly managing your time is essential to mounting a job search without sacrificing productivity at the office.
“Recognise that your time will be limited and your priorities focused around staying employed. Managing a full-scale search will be virtually impossible,” says Roy Cohen, career coach and author of “The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide.” “Identify … activities that will make job searching easy, such as search engines and recruiters. Make sure to attend professional industry meetings to maintain your visibility and to network for information and opportunities.”
Keep it quiet. Making the decision to seek out a new job is the first step, but it’s important to remember there are a lot more steps to follow. Since you’re already employed, you’re under less pressure to find a job fast. But as soon as your employer catches wind of your intentions, the pressure is on.
“Often leaving a job to start another is difficult, and made even more difficult when your current boss finds out before you’re ready,” says Vitanee Oliver, marketing executive at U.K.-based recruitment agency Talent House Recruitment. “To avoid this, it’s important not to tell your colleagues that you’re thinking of leaving – we all know how quickly gossip spreads in an office setting. It would also be best to keep your job search off your public social media profiles where it can be seen by your boss or colleagues.”
Stay honest. While it’s important to practise discretion, it’s also important to maintain a positive working relationship with your colleagues and supervisors. “Don’t make up stories when taking days off to interview,” says Elizabeth Becker, client partner at IT staffing firm Protech. “Instead of explaining how your great aunt once removed passed away and you need to go to a funeral, just request the day off for ‘personal reasons.’”
“It will not reflect well when you put in your two weeks’ notice the day after a fictional funeral and may hurt any recommendation from your manager,” adds Becker.
Search after work hours . One of the biggest mistakes employed job seekers make is allowing their search to spill over into their work hours. In many workplaces, getting caught applying to other jobs during company time or on company-owned computers or smartphones may be grounds for termination.
“Request interviews during lunch breaks or after hours. Although it’s not guaranteed that a hiring manager will be able to accommodate your interview needs, it never hurts to ask,” Becker says. “In fact, seeing how accommodating a company is during the interview process is a great way to get a feel for how the company would treat you after [you’re] hired.”
Dress for the job you have and the job you want. Dressing up for an interview may help your chances of landing the new job, but showing up at your current job in interview attire is an easy way to raise suspicion – particularly if you then leave early.
“If you need to dress differently than you would for your current job, find a place to change. Wearing an interview outfit can be a very obvious tip off to your boss that you are job searching,” says Kathi Elster, executive coach at K Squared Enterprises and co-author of “Mean Girls at Work.”
Avoid blind ads. As an employed job seeker, you can afford to be more deliberate about what types of positions to which you apply. However, you need to consider who the employer is just as carefully. Otherwise the results could be embarrassing.
“Don’t send resumes to blind ads,” says Cheryl E. Palmer, owner of executive coaching company “Call to Career.” “A woman once told me that her co-worker responded to a blind ad and then was confronted a short while later by someone in the company from human resources. The HR professional asked her if she was looking for another job. The woman lied and said no. The HR professional responded, ‘I got your resume.’ It turned out that the job that this woman had unwittingly applied for was at her own company.”
Conducting a job search while employed is tricky business, but by properly managing your time and exercising appropriate discretion, there’s no reason you can’t test the waters without rocking the boat.