Greener Pastures: Job Searching When You Already Have a Job
Did you know that it’s actually easier to land a job when you are already employed? It might seem patently unfair to those job seekers who are just out of school or who can’t find work in their field, but it’s true. A study conducted by Columbia University economists found that applicants who already had a job were invited to interview twice as often as their out-of-work counterparts, and they were three times more likely to be offered a position.
Why? It may have to do with the hiring manager’s perceptions. If an employee already has a position, that sends a subtle signal that they’re an asset. Unemployed interviewees may seem overeager or even desperate, which is a turn-off.
Is it ethical for a full-time employee to cast their net for bigger and better positions? Yes — with some caveats. Read on to learn what’s copacetic and what’s not, as well as tips for taking that next step up the corporate ladder as you start job searching.
Don’t Job Search at Work
This ought to be a no-brainer, but you might be surprised to learn how many people surf Indeed and Monster, send out their resume and even participate in phone or Skype interviews while on the clock. This is a big no-no for two reasons.
Obviously, you could get in real hot water with your current employer if they find out you’re applying for other jobs on company time and using company resources. This practice also makes a negative impression on the companies that you’re contacting. No one expects employees to swear eternal loyalty to a business, but job searching while being paid to fulfill your duties is simply disrespectful.
Don’t let the cat out of the bag that you are looking for another position. It’s all too easy for the workplace rumor mill to catch wind of your intentions, and that can lead to a layoff or termination. Since you may need to use your boss, supervisor, or colleagues as references down the line, it’s best to keep all your actions on the up-and-up so that when you do leave, you’re not burning any bridges.
Never use your work email or phone number on an application. If you get an interview, either take a half-day vacation or be sure to bring clothes to change into before returning to your office. Nothing says “I’m on the hunt for a new job” like showing up to your jeans-and-hoodie job while wearing a pinstripe suit or conservative dress.
Make Yourself Visible to Headhunters
If you’ve been working the same job for a while, you might have gotten complacent about networking. Now is the time to redouble your efforts. Attend young professionals’ meetups in your area, hand out your car, make sure your LinkedIn is up-to-date, and do what you can to get your name out there.
This would also be a good opportunity to start a professional blog where you can showcase your communication chops, or dust off that snazzy WordPress portfolio and upload past projects. Use social media platforms to generate buzz about your brand.
“If you’re contacted by an executive recruiter, always express interest,” suggests Steven Sadaka, a headhunter in Fort Lauderdale. “Agree to meet them for coffee, chat with them via Skype, or take a look at the opening they’re trying to fill. Even if you’re not interested in that particular opportunity, it never hurts to have established a rapport with an influential recruiter.”
If You Do Lose Your Job
Worst case scenario: your boss believes the gossip about your jumping ship and lets you go. Or maybe your employment is terminated for reasons that have nothing to do with your job search. Don’t panic. You can still position yourself as a desirable employee.
Hit the ground running and apply to as many positions as possible in the first week after leaving the old job. Protip: don’t just dash off cover letters and send the same generic resume everywhere. Since you’ve got the time, take it — compose custom applications for each job opportunity, highlighting certain skills or experience to more closely align with the position’s requirements.
If possible, keep working in your field. Take on a part-time, freelance, or consulting gig, or volunteer your expertise. Any of these will not only help you grow your skillset but will prevent those dreaded resume gaps. Similarly, why not sign up for continuing education classes in your industry, or teach yourself a new skill to make you that much more marketable? Another option is hiring a career coach. This is an especially smart move if you’re at a crossroads in your life, and want to change professions or head in a somewhat different direction than your career trajectory would indicate.
Last but Not Least
Job searching is a nerve-wracking, crazy-making, even disheartening proposition. Whether you already have a steady 9-6, you’re entering the corporate world for the first time, or you’ve been unemployed for several months, it’s easy to despair as the days and weeks tick by.
But by putting your best foot forward, seeking out opportunities to grow professionally, and being open to recruiters, sooner or later your dream company will come along and ask where you’ve been all their life!
Have you ever landed a job while employed full-time? What is your best job-hunting advice? Leave a comment below to share your experiences!