Working the Job Hunt (While Working a Job), Part 1

by Alexis Stapp, Head Editor, INALJ Minnesota

Working the Job Hunt (While Working a Job), Part 1

alexisstappSome of you out there surely must be in the position of looking for a new job when you already have one. The job hunting process while already employed can be tricky – it is, after all, practically a full-time job in itself – and it seems there are no hard and fast rules for handling certain issues. I know because I just did it, and successfully (thankfully*). I searched for advice on the internet and asked for it from friends and colleagues, but received varying and sometimes contradictory advice. My reasons for looking for a new job may be different from others out there but here’s some of what I learned.

  1. Don’t tell your boss… ? General consensus seems to be no, because he/she may have a negative reaction – be it different/negative treatment, denying new projects and opportunities, or simply just “relieving you of your position.” However, I do think there are situations where being honest is really the best policy. If you have a good relationship with your boss, and/or you are leaving for external reasons (i.e. “my partner got a new job and we will be relocating”), they may value that honesty. They also may be willing to give you a reference and having a good reference from a current supervisor or co-worker can be very helpful. I was honest with my supervisor, who was very supportive and offered to give a great reference.
  2. Do it on your own time. Maybe you have time to kill at work. (Maybe that’s why you’re trying to find a new job!)  Don’t use that time to search for jobs. Don’t use that time to make or take calls with potential employers. Don’t use that time to sneak off to an interview. Don’t print off resumes using the office Xerox. I know that having a full-time job makes it difficult to find the time but even if your workplace knows you are looking, it’s so important to do it on your own time. Potential future employers are aware (or should be) that you have a job and will hopefully be flexible and understanding if you can’t take a call in the middle of a workday. Also, and this should almost go without saying, use your personal email and personal cell phone for all communication.
  3. Stay committed to and focused on your current position. This kind of goes along with #2 but you should continue to give your work your best effort, both while job hunting and even after getting a new job offer. It’s easy to slip into that senioritis mindset where you think, “I’m almost out of here so I can slack off,” but your current workplace still deserves your time, respect, and professionalism for many reasons, not least of which is how it will reflect on you throughout your career. Set the bar high for the next person so when they start all they’ll hear about is how awesome you were at EVERYTHING. Kidding. Kind of.

I’ll be back next month with some more thoughts on working the job hunt while employed. In the meantime, what are your thoughts?

*Full disclosure: I only applied to one job.

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