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How to Find a Job When You Already Have One

By Nicole Cavazos

In some ways, looking for a job when you’re already employed is ideal. For one, you have the luxury of being choosy. If you don’t need to worry about paying the rent, you don’t need to settle for a less than perfect position. This also means that you have leverage when negotiating things like salary and benefits.

Second, without the added pressure of being unemployed, you can feel more relaxed about the process and won’t come across as desperate in an interview.

Thirdly, being employed makes you a more attractive candidate. To put it simply, it shows that you’re employable.

There are, however, some big drawbacks to looking for a job when you already have one. You have less time to devote to job searching, making calls and sending emails, and going on interviews, etc.

And because you need to be discrete, you can’t take full advantage of networking opportunities and social media.

You can’t list your present employer as a reference, which can be a really bad thing if this is your first real job, or biggest one so far.

And worst of all, you could jeopardize your current job if your boss finds out. So here’s how to look for a new job, without losing your existing one.

Don’t Be ObviousYeah, maybe your boss and co-workers won’t notice if you come to work in a suit and tie when your regular wardrobe consists of jeans and a Bart Simpson t-shirt. Then again, maybe it won’t be obvious when your boss starts taking steps to terminate or replace you. Use common sense. If you need to go to an interview before or after work, build in some to time to change into or out of your interview clothes. Of course, the best possible scenario is if you could wear what you wear to work and not need to change at all!

Don’t Search on Company TimeNo matter how tempting it may be, scouring job listings or calling and emailing prospective employers at work is a real no-no. Not only is it unethical, it’s also risky. Many companies are able to track both your Internet and phone usage. And it’s very easy to get caught by your boss or a co-worker while you’re scanning online job boards or faxing documents to potential employers.

Along the same lines, try and schedule your interviews for before or after work. Or if this is inconvenient, take a personal day to go on interviews.

Keep it to YourselfEven if you trust that your co-workers won’t tell your boss that you’re looking for a new job, word still gets around. And telling your colleagues can present another set of complications. Perhaps they’ll be less likely to keep you in the loop regarding current projects or communicate important information if they know you have one foot out the door. Maybe someone is even vying for your job and could, either consciously or unconsciously, sabotage your standing with your current employer. For all intents and purposes, it’s best to keep your mouth shut.

Ask Hiring Managers for ConfidentialityThe first person an employer will want to consult regarding your work performance is your most recent supervisor. But of course, this will tip-off your boss that you’re looking for another job. Because this is not an uncommon situation, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask a hiring manager to refrain from contacting your current employer. Just make sure to have a list of colleagues and previous bosses that you can provide as references instead.

Stay Focused at WorkJust because you’re looking for a new job doesn’t mean that it’s okay to slack off at your current one. Remember that your boss and colleagues are your references of the future, so don’t burn any bridges. You want to leave on positively glowing terms, so that they’re sorry to see you go.

Have a Good Explanation for Why You’re Leaving Your JobIn most cases, it’s apparent that you’re looking for another job for a promotion, a higher salary, or to work for a more desirable company. But sometimes the fact that you’re looking for a new job can be somewhat suspicious to an employer. For instance, are you not getting along with your supervisor or colleagues? Even if that is the case, always take the high road and never badmouth your current employer. It will only turn off the hiring manager and make them wonder if perhaps you were the problem.

Have the focus be on why you want to work for them. What are the traits of the job and the company that appeal to you? What experience from your previous jobs can you bring to the table that offers growth opportunities for both of you? Stay positive. And to quote a wise television anchorman, stay classy.

Nicole Cavazos

Nicole Cavazos is a Los Angeles-based copywriter and blogger. As a former contributor to the ZipRecruiter blog, she covered the job market and wrote advice for job seekers.

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