10 Do’s and Don’ts of Job Searching While You’re Still Employed

professionally dressed business woman standing outside against wall taking call away from office

Thinking about taking that important job search related call in the office or around co-workers? You might want to rethink that.

Ready for a new job?

Most career and job search experts will tell you the best time to look for a new job is while you’re still employed. To employers, the best potential new hires are the top performers who excel at what they do currently and have the potential to be lured away for a better opportunity.

And for job seekers who are quietly looking, this makes them attractive candidates for hiring managers and recruiters. But searching for a new job while you’re currently employed is risky. If your employer finds out, this may jeopardize your job–or at the very least, change the dynamic of the working relationship. Here are 10 do’s and don’t of job searching while you’re still employed.


10 Do’s and Don’t of Job Searching While Employed

1. Don’t Tell Anyone at Work About Your Search

Even the most well meaning colleagues can let your private news slip to the wrong party, which could spell serious problems for you–including immediate dismal from your current position. With something as important as your job on the line, the risk is simply not worth it.

You may want to exercise the same precautions with other professional connections who may have ties to your boss or colleagues, such as vendors. Not only is sharing this information not professional, but again, it may get back to your superiors and cause you problems.

 2. Do Update Your Resume & LinkedIn Profile

Your resume should always be current, and if you have examples of your work that you can share in a professional portfolio, that should be kept updated as well. It makes for far less work should a great opportunity present itself, or should you be forced to find something right away.

The same applies for LinkedIn, which is essentially your online resume. If you’re keeping it up to date while you’re employed, this shouldn’t raise any warning flags with your current employer. If out of the blue you decide to update your entire profile, this may put them on alert. In either case, you can update your profile privately and opt to have it not inform your current network, which includes any current colleagues. Here’s more information on how to do that here.

 3. Don’t Post Your Resume on Job Boards

A vast majority of the job boards enable recruiters to directly contact potential candidates right from the information found on their resume. So what happens if that recruiter happens to work for your company? That could create a situation that ends with you being let go. It’s better to play it safe and only apply for roles where confidentiality can be assured.

4. Do Give 100% at Your Current Job

No matter what your reasons are for seeking greener pastures, you should continue to honor your current employment agreement and give 100% at your job. Slacking off or submitting work that’s sub-par can only harm your professional reputation and decrease the odds of getting a positive reference from your supervisor and/or colleagues after you’ve left.

5. Don’t Share on Social Media That You’re Looking

Even if you have your profile set to private, sharing any information regarding a job search while you’re still employed can potentially make its way back to your employer and again, jeopardize your current position. Furthermore, potential employers may view your sharing of this information as being a job-hopper or disloyal. It’s best to keep the conversation regarding your search offline.

6. Do Schedule Interviews Outside of Normal Business Hours 

Being productive while at work is key and missing time to attend interviews or take phone calls can impact your productivity and raise suspicion with management–especially if you’re taking personal time during work hours more than normal. Try to arrange calls and interviews before work hours or after if at all possible. For more tips on interviewing and the interview process, be sure to take a look our other articles under the blog category, Interview Insider.

7. Don’t Conduct Your Search Using Any Company Owned Device

This one should go without saying. It doesn’t matter if it is a company provided laptop, desktop computer, cell phone, or any other mobile device–DO NOT use any property owned or paid for by your employer to conduct a job search. Your employer has a right to any data sent or received to devices they supply or pay for in order for you to conduct business on their behalf. Always use your own devices to conduct your search.

8. Do Dress How You Normally Would

If your attire for work is business casual and suddenly you’re sporting a 3-piece suit to the office, chances are, it will be noticed and may be questioned. We often advise professionals to always dress for the position they want, not the position they have at the workplace. That way, a sudden change in attire won’t raise suspicions.

9. Don’t Use Current Coworkers or Supervisors as References

This goes back to our first point (number one) listed above and not telling current coworkers about your search. We all like to think that we can implicitly trust those we work with, but all it takes is one slip-up to put both yours and your coworker’s reputation and position at work in jeopardy. In addition, you’ll want to make sure the references you do use are prepared to speak on your behalf. We’ve outlined how to prep them in this post.

10. Do Be Honest About Your Search if Confronted by Your Boss 

If your boss learns that you are job searching and they confront you regarding, it’s best to be honest and upfront. It’s impossible to know the reaction they’ll have, but by not being honest and then suddenly handing in your notice after they’ve asked, you risk damaging your relationship with them. Good bosses fight for their best people to stay, but also understand that opportunities for growth and advancement are also a natural progression of a career–and want to see their star people shine.


Job Searching While Currently Employed–a Word About Working with Recruiters

If you’ve opted to work with recruiters other than those directly employed by the company you’re interested in to expand your reach, it’s a good idea to ask if they can share with you the clients they are actively recruiting for. Recruiters have agreements in place that state they cannot recruit candidates who are actively employed at client’s place of business.

This will help you to avoid word potentially getting around to your boss that you’re searching or put your present job at risk. While 90% of all recruiters are upstanding, there are the other 10% who would use any leverage they can to secure business by making a placement.

In addition, you’ll want to make sure to let every recruiter you engage with know that your search is strictly confidential and your current employer is not to be contacted. This is a fairly common request amongst candidates who are conducting a search while they are still employed. If you’d like to learn more about working with recruiters including how to get the most from this professional relationship, check out this post. To understand the different types of recruiters who can help you in your search, we recommend that you check out this 3-part post.

Conducting a job search while currently employed can be challenging, but with careful planning and determination, you can land your next position without jeopardizing your present job.


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