Job Hunting While Employed
by Tom Washington

Looking for a job when you are employed isn't easy, but it is always better to be looking for a job when you already have one. There is a psychological advantage to this. When you have a job you seem like more of a prize to a potential employer because the hiring authority is going to have to "steal" you away from someone else. It is also reassuring to an employer to know that someone else values you enough to keep you on the payroll. If you were unemployed I would be telling you the advantages of unemployment—the primary advantage being the ability to work 30 hours each week on the job search.

If you are employed and looking for a different job, you must make the most of your particular advantages. You can, for example, be more selective. If a job is offered to you but it does not provide the pay or the independence you desire, you can feel free to turn it down. Generally, you should only take a new job if it is going to be significantly better than the job you already have.

It's The Right Time, Not The Best Time To Look For A Job

It is never the "best" time to start a job search? There's always something wrong—it's the wrong time of year (December, for example), or unemployment just went up two tenths of a percent last month. While it may not be the best time, it is the "right" time. If you're unhappy with your job, if you believe that layoffs are coming and you're in jeopardy, if you need to make more money and your current job has little prospects for that, it's the right time to look. Don't wait for the unemployment rate to come down, don't wait until after Christmas, and don't wait for your family life or job to return to "normal." This is the time.

You don't have to commit yourself to ten hours a week if you can only spend five. Consistency of effort is much more important than spending a lot of time one week and then almost no time the next two weeks. Commit yourself to three to five hours of good solid job-hunting efforts each week. Yes, it will take longer for you to find a job than it would an unemployed person who devotes 30 hours weekly to the job search. But because you're employed, you can take your time to find a position that meets your job and career needs.

Do Not Quit Your Job

No matter how bad things are, do not quit a job until you have another. I've seen a few exceptions to this rule, but very few. If things are really bad, let that be an incentive to go out and get a better job. Make finding another job your highest priority. Since you're working full-time, you will need to make some personal sacrifices, but the outcome will be worth it. You may need to give up or cut back on some of your leisure activities. If you have appointments to make with contacts or potential employers after work, you may need to get to work early some days to complete your projects. It won't be easy, but once you've found the job you're looking for, you'll be glad you paid the price.

You may need to ignore the rule of not quitting a job until you have another if your job is so psychologically destructive that your productivity has dramatically declined, it’s a battle every morning to get to work, or you are severely depressed. Under such circumstances, it may be best to leave that job.

You might also consider quitting if you have money socked away so that finances will not be a problem for at least nine months, and you are totally committed to spending 30 hours per week in your job search. I'll tell you though, very few people handle unemployment well. Even when finances are not a problem, those who are used to working full-time go stir crazy and often end up taking any job just to be able to have a job. The new job is sometimes worse than the job that was left.

For most, the best decision is to conduct an effective job search while continuing to work. Do your best, even if you hate your job, so you don’t get terminated. Spend quality time in your job search. Do all the little things right as well as the big things. Those who are focused regarding the types of positions they are seeking and who sell themselves effectively, will land the right job more quickly, getting you out of that position you dislike.

Good fortune to you in your endeavor to get the right job, not just a job.

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