Changing Jobs

The smart way to job hunt while you have a job

Written by Kate Lopaze

It’s easier to job hunt if you have a job. It’s a maxim, but it’s backed up: statistics have shown that employers are more likely to hire people who already have jobs, and a 2017 survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York determined that about 23% of job seekers are already employed.

So if you’re ready for a job change and hoping to join that group, how do you go about it?

6 tips for looking for a new job while still on the job

Be discreet

This should be obvious, but it should always be top-of-mind as you look for a new gig. If your boss finds out that you’re unhappy and looking, that can make your current situation very uncomfortable—very fast. So make sure you’re keeping everything on the DL; no griping loudly about how much you hate this place, no telling everyone but your boss that you’re halfway out the door.

It may be that you need references for your job hunt, and as mentioned, you probably can’t tell your boss. So what about other colleagues? Choose carefully. Select one or two people who can speak to your abilities and professional skills, but who will also be discreet. Office gossips need not apply. And make sure that when you talk to this person, you emphasize that you need them to be discreet and not tell anyone else that you’re thinking about your exit plan. Most people get it—remember, 23% of employed people are out looking for new opportunities, and turnover is a fact of life at virtually every company. If you’re not sure that someone is entirely trustworthy, don’t risk it. Go outside the company for a reference.

You still have to work while at work

Don’t spend your time combing job search sites while you’re supposed to be working. Many employers have full access to everything you search online while using company devices, so if you wouldn’t want your IT department handing a list of links to your boss, don’t spend your work day scanning job sites.

Instead, use your own phone or tablet during lunch, or on other breaks.

Don’t use your work email address as a contact for new job leads

Ideally, you have a respectable name@[anyemaildomain].com account set up for your personal use. That’s what you should use for your job search because again, you don’t want your job hunt to become public knowledge, and your work emails are typically the property of your employer.

Schedule interviews outside of work hours whenever possible

This can be tricky, because business hours are when most hiring work is done. But if a late-day or early morning interview just isn’t possible, we’ve all done the “I have a dentist appointment” fib to go to an interview.

Don’t telegraph that you’re interviewing

When you’re leaving for that “dentist appointment,” it’s a pretty big tip-off if you just happen to be wearing your best suit. If you can, change outside the office after you leave and before you get back.

Don’t start slacking at your current job

When you’re focused on the future, it can be tempting to do less now. That will almost definitely backfire. If your standard of work drops, you risk causing damage to your reputation. And if you don’t get that new job right away, you’re stuck with the consequences of that in your everyday professional life. It’s a kind of self-sabotage. So even though you may be frustrated or unhappy about your current situation, do as much as you can to maintain the status quo while you figure out your next steps. Don’t forget, you may need these colleagues as references or part of your network later on, so don’t burn bridges now.

Looking for a job while you have a job is common, and it can be challenging, with what feels like cloak-and-dagger activity. But if you’re able to balance your current work with your stealth search on the side, it’ll be even sweeter when you find that perfect new opportunity.

About the author

Kate Lopaze

Kate Lopaze is a writer, editor, and digital publishing professional based in New York City. A graduate of the University of Connecticut and Emerson College with degrees in English and publishing, she is passionate about books, baseball, and pop culture (though not necessarily in that order), and lives in Brooklyn with her dog.