The best time to look for a new job is when you already have one. Being employed puts you in a better negotiating position. In addition, it enables you to take the time to conduct a careful job search and gives you the luxury of being able to turn down unattractive offers without putting yourself in a financial bind.
Silence Is Golden at Work
While you want to get the word out to prospective employers, you don’t want to mention your job search to your current coworkers – not even to your closest confidants. All it takes is a single slip of the tongue and your desire to move on to greener pastures will become the No. 1 item on the gossip grapevine. This can make your remaining tenure uncomfortable, as your coworkers and boss question your level of commitment. And employers rarely waste money giving raises to employees who are preparing to walk out the door.
Tell Everybody Else
While you don’t want your current employer to know that you plan to leave, you do want everybody else you know to be in the loop and on the lookout to help you land that new job (see The Complete Guide to Job Searching: The Search). You just never know when a friend has a contact who could lead to your big break or exit. Make sure your friends and family know that you in the market for a new job and ask them to keep an eye out for opportunities that might be a good fit for you.
Stay Current on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is one of the best-known electronic tools for job seekers, so make sure your LinkedIn in profile is up to date. Having a complete profile on LinkedIn provides an opportunity for potential employers to find you, as many recruiters and hiring managers troll the site for prospects. Your LinkedIn profile is also likely to receive a visit from anyone who schedules an interview with you, so you want the information in your profile to match the information on your resume (see 5 Ways To Refrresh Your Resume). If your profile isn’t up to date when you start your job search, be sure to select the option that blocks your updates from being broadcast to your contacts, as it is likely that some of your current coworkers are members of your contact list.
Put Other Technology Tools to Work
In addition to LinkedIn, other popular job-search sites (see Top 5 Apps For Job Seekers) can be put to work on your behalf. Many sites allow you to set up a personal profile so that appropriate job openings are funneled directly to your email. (Be sure to direct them to your personal account, not your work address.) And beware of blindly posting your resume to employment sites. The HR department at your current employer also might use those sites too.
Maintain a Low Profile
Conduct your job search on your time, not on company time. Don’t use the firm’s telephones, computers, mailroom or other resources to support your effort to find a new job. When you start to land interviews, try to schedule them during periods when your absence from work will be the least disruptive. Disappearing during critical times can raise your profile for all the wrong reasons. When possible, schedule interviews (see 4 Essential Questions To Ask At The End Of A Job Interview) well in advance so that you can use personal or vacation time on those days as opposed to taking off suddenly.
Even if you are completely miserable and desperate to leave your current job, it is critical that you continue to deliver high-quality work for your current employer (see When It's Right To Leave Your Job). You are being paid to do the job, so as long you remain on the payroll, you owe it to your employer to put forth your best effort.
Not only is it the right thing to do, but it’s also a smart career move. If your new job doesn’t work out, your old job might suddenly look a whole lot better. If you want to have any hope of getting that job back, it’s best not to have burned any bridges. Also keep in mind that it’s a small world. Your former colleagues can and will switch employers as the years pass. Somebody you worked with a long time ago just might end up becoming a hiring manager at a place you’d like to work in the future.
Learn From the Search
Looking for a job can teach you a lot. You can test your value in the marketplace, find out what competing companies are seeking when they look for talent and learn whether your skills are up-to-date and in demand. You might even learn that your current job isn’t so bad after all.
The Bottom Line
It's really true. The best time to look for a new job is when you are still working at your old job. A well-orchestrated search will minimize disruptions at your current office, enabling you to continue to pay your bills even as you seek greener pastures. A professional work ethic and (after your new job has been secured) appropriate notice when you tender your resignation will protect your reputation and maintain positive relationships for possible future endeavors. If you are ready to get started on your search, read The Complete Guide To Job Searching .