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by Rob Porter | June 14, 2024

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When it comes to your career, it’s wise to keep your options open. This might include making new network connections or attending events regularly, and even if you’re currently employed, there’s nothing wrong with checking out other companies to see how industry standards for employee benefits and salary have changed. Depending on your situation you may want to conduct a job search while you’re currently employed, but there’s a certain finesse to doing so. Here’s what you need to know.

Be Discreet

The last thing you’d want is for your employer to find out that you’re conducting a job search. Even if you’re just “window shopping,” it could be a bad look and it might cause your employer to begin searching for candidates to fill your current role. It’s best to resist the urge to speak to your coworkers as well, as information can spread very quickly. Even if you’re unhappy at work and you know several other coworkers who are looking for other avenues of employment, keep your job search a secret.

By being discreet you won’t call your commitment to your work into question. Remember, even if you’re planning on leaving your current job, it’s important to maintain a high level of professionalism. If you’re concerned with getting reference letters, it would be better to leverage your professional network or any managers you had at previous jobs. If you’re currently working for your very first employer and you’re conducting a job search, consider asking former professors and classmates to be your references.

Put Your Best Foot Forward

We briefly touched on the idea of maintaining a high level of professionalism at work, regardless of your intentions to leave. You never know where you’ll end up or who you’ll run into over the course of your career, so don’t burn bridges. In time, you may begin another job search only to find that the hiring manager at a potential employer is someone you’ve worked with in the past. If they remember you as being gracious and professional, they’ll be more likely to consider you for the position.

It may take some time before you get to go on interviews or find a new job, so continue to do your best at work for the time being. This means completing all your normal tasks, maintaining your working relationships with your coworkers and managers, and taking on new tasks when it’s requested of you. Even if you’ve found reasons to leave and find a new job, you’re still obligated to do your part to help your coworkers. Nothing kills the morale around the office like someone who’s constantly saying they “can’t wait to leave,” or how much they dislike their job, so don’t be that person.

Be Honest with Potential Employers

During your job search, it’s best to be upfront with potential employers about your intentions to leave your current employer. Along with this, you can request for potential employers to be discreet about your interactions. The same goes for a recruiter if you’ve decided to go that route, and in most cases a recruiter will agree to be discreet; however, if you feel that you can’t trust your current recruiter it might be time to find someone else.

Being honest with potential employers will also make scheduling interviews far less stressful, since you can request to schedule them before or after work, on your break if possible, or far enough into the future that you can use PTO at your current employer. Depending on the company you may also be able to schedule a virtual interview, providing you with even more flexibility. Remember, you’re still employed and you wouldn’t want your job search to affect that, so take any precautions that you think might be necessary.

Job Search on Your Own Time

If you’re currently employed and you’re looking for a new job, refrain from doing so at work or on company-provided devices. Remember, you want to maintain your professionalism and continue to demonstrate your commitment to your current job regardless of your intentions, and if your current employer discovers that you’ve been job hunting while on the clock, it won’t be a good look.

When you’re locked into a serious job search, it can often be tempting to check your email. This temptation may be even harder to ignore if you’re in a rush to find something new. In any case, set clear boundaries for yourself. For example, you might check and respond to emails on your lunch break or wake up extra early in the morning to look for any updates. When it comes to taking phone calls, do your best to schedule them when you’re off from work or on a break that gives you adequate time to talk.

If Your Employer Finds Out

The possibility exists that your employer may learn of your intentions to leave, despite your best efforts. There’s no sugar-coating it—this can be catastrophic depending on your employer, but you can still salvage your image if you’re tactful about it. If your employer confronts you about your job search, remain calm and explain that while you are looking, you’re still committed to your current job and you’re going to continue to do your best as long as you’re there.

Even if your employer is understanding about your job search, they will still begin looking to fill your role. This might make you feel as though you need to rush, but continue to conduct your job search on your own time and as discreetly as possible. The most important thing here is maintaining your professionalism no matter what, as it may help you in the long run.

The bottom line is, your priority should always be to find what works best for you and your lifestyle, whether it’s where you live, who you spend time with, or even your place of employment. If you’re thinking of conducting a job search while currently employed, be respectful and professional, and in the end do your best to demonstrate gratitude for the opportunity your current employer has given you.

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