Launching your job search while employed has some definite advantages. Without a time crunch, you are not at the mercy of job boards or networking opportunities. Additionally, you can catch up with professional connections without a hidden agenda (i.e. asking for a recommendation or introduction.) Most importantly, when the pickins’ are slim, you can calmly wait for the tide to change.

Simply put, you drive your job search.

According to a survey released by employment site CareerBuilder, 34% of respondents are “regularly looking for job opportunities, even though they are currently employed.”

People revisit their resume and reach out to long-lost contacts for many reasons. For some, it’s a lack of job satisfaction. For others, it’s simply the search for better opportunities for growth or a more competitive compensation package. You will even find people on the job hunt because they are at the top of their game, giving them the upper hand at the negotiating table. 

Regardless of why you have launched your search, looking for a new job while you have a job can also be tricky. It’s a delicate dance of dos and don’ts.

The Dos and Don’ts of Launching a Job Search While You Have a Job

DO update your info

If you’re like most people, it’s been a while since you looked at your resume. If you are going to begin a job search, start by writing out your most recent accomplishments, any new skills you’ve acquired, or technologies you’ve learned. Interviews center around what you bring to the table. Maintaining a top-notch current resume that outlines your tangible successes makes you appealing from the get-go. (Tip: Make sure your resume is accurate, not just flashy!) Hiring managers love numbers. How much money have you saved the company since you took on your current role? What is the increase in sales since you took the lead? Were you a “Top Sales Person”? Be sure to update your information everywhere, including your social media profiles.

DO NOT list your present employer as a reference

Andy Teach, author of From Graduation to Corporation, says, “If you’re interviewing with another company, you want to let them know, ‘Please don’t contact my present employer.’” Your previous employers you had a good relationship with and former colleagues are excellent references. Call them ahead of time and give them insight about the role you are pursuing. Remind them of your skills, experience, and accomplishments. Prepare them for the call and directs how to speak to your strengths given the role you are looking for.

DO leverage LinkedIn discreetly

Ideally, your LinkedIn profile is current and drips with stellar recommendations and endorsements. If your profile is weak in this area, discreetly reach out to previous employers or colleagues. Caution: Do so slowly, not all at once. Adding more than one endorsement or recommendation each month could indicate that you are job hunting. The recruiters and hiring manager’s whose attention you want to capture might not be the only people who notice your increased LinkedIn activity. Chances are, someone at your company will see it. Also, there are automated web tools that can tell your employer that you’re active on LinkedIn if you are a connection.

DO NOT look for a job while you are at work

This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised by the number of people who use “office time” as “job search time.” Do not search for jobs or update your resume on your work computer. Do not include your work phone number or email address. Under no circumstances should you tell the person who shares your office or is in the next cubicle that you are looking for a new job.

DO stay committed to your current job

Once you’ve made the decision to move on, it’s easy to start behaving as if you’ve got one foot out the door already. Nothing demonstrates that you are a flight risk like suddenly arriving late, leaving early, slacking on projects, and badmouthing the boss or other employees. Remember, there is no guarantee you will find your ideal role in the coming months. So don’t develop a poor reputation with your current employer… She may be your boss for many, many more months.

DO NOT post your plans to leave on Social Media

Regardless of how tight your privacy settings, your social media accounts are never completely private. Finally, got an interview with your dream company? Congratulations! Call your mom, dad, or significant other. Do NOT post it on Facebook or any other social media platform.  In addition, share your resume individually with different companies, rather than posting it to an online board where your current employer may come across it.

DO plan interviews wisely

This is one of the trickier parts of finding a job while working. Ideally, schedule them before or after your workday or over your lunch break. This won’t always be possible, so be prepared to use a sick or personal day when necessary. Also, don’t forget to plan your interview wardrobe. Not just so you can look your best for the interview itself, but because it will make you stand out to your current employer if you suddenly arrive in a suit after years of wearing jeans. Either change for an interview after you’ve left the office or occasionally up your wardrobe game at your current employment to avoid sticking out like a sore thumb the day you arrive in a dress.

Your boss knows you are looking for a new job… Now what?

DO NOT panic if you’re approached by your employer

Sometimes, no matter how “stealthy” your job search, your boss is going to find out and possibly approach you. This can potentially be an awkward conversation. Be honest… mostly. “I like to keep my resume up-to-date and be aware of current trends in my industry/role.” All true. Ideally, your employer will ask what you’ve learned and open the door for conversations about ways to make your job better. Improving the job you have might be a lot easier than finding a new one. Being “discovered” can also be the impetus for a discussion about a change in your compensation package or a promotion.

Few people have the luxury of quitting their current job and investing all their time in finding the next opportunity. The majority of us are searching while still showing up to the office each morning. Using a good dose of common sense and a dollop of tact will go a long way in helping you explore new opportunities while still bringing in a paycheck.

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