Getting Started Job Search Tips

Job Hunting While Employed: Do’s and Don’ts

Written by Miranda Pennington

Sophie Deering over at TheUndercoverRecruiter knows about the delicate dance of looking for another job while you’re still employed by your last one. You have to keep your search below the radar, which flies in the face of the typical advice to advertise your job-hunting status everywhere for networking purposes!


  • Update your LinkedIn profile. Check your privacy settings first to make sure you’re not broadcasting each update to your entire network. An up-to-date profile is one of the first things a recruiter’s going to look for.
  • Schedule interviews during non-work hours. There are only so many “doctor’s appointments” or “work from home” days you can fit in without attracting suspicion. When scheduling your interview, request beginning or end of day slots—your prospective employer should understand, and even appreciate your discretion.
  • Network! Get in touch with past colleagues and supervisors to let them know you’re searching for something new; the last office job I held I got after reaching out to former coworkers who had somehow all relocated to the same company. We got two more years of working together, and are all still in touch as freelancers today.
  • Give appropriate notice in writing. Once you’ve passed the interview phase and gotten that job offer, give necessary notice. Be a team player as they find and train your replacement.
  • Leave in a professional manner. Unless your industry is so vast you may never need to see these people again, you should be professional and dignified until the very last minute. You may need your former colleagues as references or want to approach your old boss for a future collaboration. Storming out might feel great in the moment, but being gracious and poised will take you further.


  • Talk to colleagues about your job hunt. If you have one or two close colleagues who you know are well-connected, it may be a good idea to let them know you’re looking so you have a reliable reference at your current gig, but you definitely don’t want your business becoming water-cooler conversation. It’s counterproductive for morale and productivity.
  • Don’t dress differently than normal. If your current workplace is pretty casual, you don’t want to suddenly show up in a suit or more formal outfit—take a change of clothes with you and change somewhere en route to avoid suspicion.
  • Don’t job search while you’re at work. This should be a no brainer, but unless you want your job search financed by your severance pay, keep your searches confined to your evenings, lunch hour, and weekends.
  • Don’t post your resume on job boards. The odds of someone from your organization seeing your info there are higher; apply for jobs that have submission processes, not the ones that require a job-searching profile.
  • Don’t mention the job search on social media. I don’t think this one is fair, but as an employee you’re always representing your employer in some capacity—if you’re kvetching where anyone can see it or openly ready to move on, your employer may decide to take care of the conflict of interest in a way you won’t like.

 The Do’s and Don’ts of Finding a Job When You Are Already in a Job


About the author

Miranda Pennington

Miranda K. Pennington is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared on The Toast, The American Scholar, and the Ploughshares Writing Blog. She currently teaches creative nonfiction for Uptown Stories, a Morningside Heights nonprofit organization. She has an MFA from Columbia University, where she has also taught in the University Writing program and consulted in the Writing Center.