The Best Time to Job Search? While You’re Employed.

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It’s starting to seem like your relationship with your employer has run its course. You may be frustrated with the culture or the company, or you may be searching for growth opportunities that simply aren’t available here. You may even be moving or altering your circumstances, and this current job just isn’t meeting your needs any longer. Maybe you get the sense that you’re about to be fired or laid off.

Any of these are valid reasons to start searching for a new position. And to avoid a treacherous gap of unemployment and uncertainty, it makes sense to start looking while you’re still employed. There’s often a feeling among hiring managers (justified or not), that employed candidates are more trustworthy than those who are not currently collecting an income. According to this logic, a working candidate is desirable and has no glaring red flags associated with reliability or performance. There may be little substance to this myth, but in order to do their work successfully, hiring managers and recruiters need to make quick judgments about candidates based on very limited information.

Warnings for the Employed Job Seeker

So before you leap, start looking. But keep a few important caveats in mind as you do so. There’s freedom in unemployment; out-of-work candidates don’t have to show company loyalty or tiptoe around socially awkward scenarios. They can, and should, network aggressively and pursue any and every opportunity in their path. By comparison, an employed candidate will need to show more caution and discretion. Take these considerations into account as you begin your search:

  1. If your employer knows that you’re looking for work, it’s in her best interest to start searching for someone to replace you. Once those wheels are put in motion, it may be difficult or socially complicated to slow them down. So don’t announce your search until you’re ready to give notice.
  2.  A secret search process, by nature, is socially fraught. You don’t want to tangle yourself in a web of lies or come off as a sneak, but at the same time, you have a right to look out for your future. Be savvy, quiet, and dignified as you navigate the situation. Never use your company email or office phone to talk to recruiters. Do that using your own resources, and do it on your own time.
  3.  Go out with class. Don’t let your performance or relationships slide as you wrap up the last few weeks or months with your current employer. In fact, it’s best to do the opposite. Give the current job a final burst of intense energy and commitment. That way your contacts and your reputation will both remain strong.
  4.  Monitor your speech and behavior even when you aren’t at work. Until you’re free from your current position, aggressive networking should take a back seat to discretion. Don’t reach out loudly to anyone and everyone. Before you tell someone about your search, even a casual friend, consider that person carefully. Does she have your best interests in mind?
  5.  Get it over with. Don’t live in this awkward state of limbo indefinitely. If you’ve been searching for more than a year while still employed, ask yourself a few tough questions. Maybe your current job has something to offer after all? No matter what decision you make, make a decision. And as you do so, exercise your diplomacy skills and always keep your mind open.

Reach out to the job search experts at CSS for more information and guidance with the job search process.

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