The Advantage of Being Proactive: Job Searching While Employed
In most cases, people tend to start looking for a new job only when they have lost their current one. Upon receiving the dreaded news, panic sets in, and individuals hurriedly update their resumes, polish their LinkedIn profiles, and scour job advertisements. This approach seems logical since nobody enjoys searching for work when it’s not a necessity.
However, there are times when what appears to be sensible may not be the best course of action. Employment experts emphasize that the optimal time to search for a new job is while you are still employed. Although this may seem counterintuitive, there are several compelling reasons behind this conclusion.
Firstly, recruiters and hiring managers generally prefer candidates who are currently employed. This preference is widely acknowledged in the HR profession. As Liz Ryan noted in Forbes, “employers prefer to hire currently-employed job applicants over applicants who aren’t working.” Executive Recruiter Harry Urschel, in agreement, wrote in Job Hunt that “it’s easier to get a new job while you’re in a job, rather than when you’re unemployed.” Peter Harris from Workopolis adds, “you’ll have a better chance of being hired while you’re working.”
Secondly, being employed provides you with the luxury of being selective. When you are unemployed and reliant on savings, there is immense pressure to accept the first job offer that comes along, even if it is not ideal. This often leads to settling for a position with limited potential or one that does not align with your preferences. Conversely, if you search for jobs while still employed, you can afford to choose only the best options. If an offer does not surpass your current job in terms of benefits, advancement opportunities, or team dynamics, you can pass on it and continue your search. This freedom to be selective is much easier when you are not desperate for employment.
Thirdly, it is crucial to consider your long-term career aspirations. Dream jobs do not surface frequently, and they may not coincide with periods of unemployment. By keeping one foot in the job market at all times, you ensure that you are available and attentive when the ideal position becomes available.
These three compelling arguments all lead to the same conclusion: the best time to search for a job is when you are already employed.
Maintaining a Balanced Approach
While searching for a job while employed is a wise strategy, it requires a delicate approach. When you are unemployed, job hunting becomes the focal point of your life, consuming most of your time and attention. Naturally, you cannot dedicate that level of energy to job hunting while maintaining employment. Rather, you need to adopt a more subtle approach, keeping one foot in the employment pool without diving in completely. Here are some key points to consider:
Maintain an updated and polished resume: Regularly update your resume, including your latest achievements at your current job. Ensure that it is optimized to pass through Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) used by major companies to screen applicants.
Monitor job advertisements selectively: Rather than searching for jobs daily, scan job advertisements once a week. Focus on the highest-quality positions that align with your skills and experience. Only apply when you believe the opportunity has the potential to significantly advance your career.
Stay active in your professional network: Keep your networking efforts ongoing, without being overly aggressive. Inform trusted friends and associates that you are open to new opportunities, follow up with new business contacts, and actively participate on professional platforms such as LinkedIn.
When Active Job Searching is Necessary
While it is generally advisable for employed individuals to maintain a passive job search strategy, there are circumstances that warrant a more active approach. If you fall into any of the following categories, it may be necessary to step up your job search efforts:
You are not being compensated adequately based on your skills and experience.
Your current job is causing significant mental or physical stress.
You are dealing with toxic bosses or coworkers in your workplace.
You have been stagnant without a promotion for an extended period and see limited prospects for career advancement.
You feel bored and unchallenged in your current role.
Your company is facing financial troubles, relying heavily on a single customer or revenue source, making poor business decisions, or experiencing legal issues.
While these conditions may not warrant an immediate resignation, they do indicate that you should actively explore new work opportunities. Do not wait until the situation becomes unbearable or your employer faces collapse. If you notice signs of trouble, take action accordingly.
Balancing Loyalty and Career Advancement
Loyalty to one’s employer is commendable, but ultimately, you are responsible for managing your career and ensuring its progression. If you hesitate to explore new options due to loyalty, ask yourself if your employer would show the same loyalty to you if circumstances allowed them to replace you or eliminate your position.
There is no harm in discussing workplace concerns with your employer and maintaining a positive relationship. It is also acceptable to inform your employer if you have received another job offer, giving them the opportunity to match it. However, unless you already have the perfect job, loyalty should not be a reason to remain stagnant. There is always room for improvement, and you owe it to yourself to seize better opportunities if they arise.
To maintain an active presence in the job market, follow these steps:
Ensure your resume is up to date and optimized for the job you are applying for. Consider hiring a professional resume writer if needed.
Regularly check a select few trusted sources for job advertisements, scanning them once a week.
Stay engaged in your professional network, maintaining connections and activity on platforms such as LinkedIn.
Be discerning and apply only to exceptional job opportunities that align with your career goals.
In conclusion, job searching while employed may initially seem like a waste of time or disloyal to your current employer. However, it is a strategy that should be seriously considered by most individuals. It increases your chances of securing a desirable job, allows for selectivity in choosing the best options, and keeps you prepared for when the perfect opportunity arises. This winning combination deserves your attention and effort.