Most of us spend 80% of our time working, and yet many people are not happy or fulfilled in their jobs. Many of us daydream of something better. In today's increasingly competitive job market, how can you start to find your dream job?
First of all, don't give up the day job. Former Fortune 500 recruiter, Caroline Ceniza-Levine, says that she would never advise a client to quit a current job to launch a job search. She knows firsthand the big advantage an employed jobseeker has over unemployed candidates. Although job hunting is an understood and expected part of the workplace, it is still a tricky maneuver to execute without a hitch. Here are some ways you can hunt for a new job while not putting your current position in jeopardy.
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Start creating a presence for yourself in the industry that you want to move into without overtly signaling that you are looking for a change. Participate in trade groups, associations or community organizations and introduce yourself to professionals in your industry. Network outside of your current company's contacts. In today's technological world, Elizabeth Garone highlights the opportunities that can come from regularly updating your LinkedIn page. Having a LinkedIn profile does not signal to your employer that you are looking, but it does neatly advertise your skills and expertise to anyone who is interested. While LinkedIn may be helpful, beware of broadcasting your search via other social media sites. Facebook and Twitter are akin to the modern day water cooler chat. Gossip spreads instantly, so make sure to keep your thoughts about leaving private or share them only with those you consider confidants. (For related reading, see 4 Career Networking Tips That Work.)
Don't use your office email, telephone, fax or copier to research a potential new job. No one likes to think that Big Brother is watching, but your office email account may be monitored, and you don't want to face the heart palpitations of getting your resume stuck in the office copier. Use your personal email account (or create a new one if you have had your email address since high school), and try to keep your search limited to out-of-office hours. If you must job hunt at the office, bring in your own laptop and pop out to a coffee shop on your lunch hour. If your current job doesn't allow for time-consuming research, you could always consider outsourcing the investigation to a virtual assistant company like Elance.com. (For related reading, see 5 Jobs With High Salary, Low Education.)
Plan Interviews without Raising Eyebrows
Ideally you should schedule interviews first thing in the morning, after work or even set aside a vacation day. Apart from avoiding the ethical issues of interviewing for a new job on your current employer's dime, this gets around the issue of having to come up with excuses for covering an absence during the workday. A telltale sign of sneaking away to a lunch time or after-work interview is a suspicious change of clothes. If you suddenly turn up to your casual office in a suit and tie, you may quickly give the game away. Instead of changing your style of dress, bring a change of clothes to work and make the outfit transformation away from your current office. (For related reading, see 7 Steps To Choosing A Second Career.)
Expect the Unexpected Phone Call
Despite your Herculean efforts at precaution, a recruiter may call your work line or your cell phone while you are sitting at your desk. Whatever you do, don't drop your voice and start talking hushed whispers. Instead, simply explain that you are in the middle of something, take down his number and ask if you could call him back at a more appropriate time.
Maintain Good References
You can't use your current boss or co-workers, so what other references can you come up with? Create a list of managers and co-workers from previous jobs, as well as people who have left your company or satisfied former clients. Keep in mind that your current boss is a potential reference in the future. It may be tempting to let your work slide while you hunt for the next opportunity, but remember to think ahead to the contacts you will want in the future. Don't give up on your job before you have left. (For related reading, see Asking For A Reference: Who, How, When And Where?)
The Bottom Line
In today's marketplace, career monogamy is not expected. Headhunters are always seeking talent to be poached, and many of us are perpetually on the look-out for a more promising offer. Networking, keeping your LinkedIn profile updated and attending interviews are great ways of making yourself known and attractive to recruiters. However, be aware of the temptation to look ahead - don't give up on your current job before you have made the leap. (For more, see Applying For A Job When You're Overqualified.)