Job hunting is no easy task. Some even say that searching for employment is a full-time job in and of itself. Pair that with already having a full-time job? You’re in for a handful when it comes to coordinating your current schedule with job applications, phone interviews, work samples, second interviews, and the possible third interview.
So how can one manage their job hunt while working full-time? We’ve come up with a few tips for that.
Yes, start your job search while you still have a job
Despite the fact that you may be jumping at the bit to quit your current job (read: How Long Should You Stay at a Job?) don’t jump the gun and quit your job before you start your next search. Right or wrong, employers can sometimes see candidates who are currently employed as more desirable than candidates who are unemployed.
In an interview we had with a recruiter from a major tech company, we were told, “With the unemployment rate where it is, I am usually skeptical about candidates that are not currently working. I definitely recommend interviewing while you are employed if possible.”
Do your best to schedule interviews outside work hours
You might be feeling “done” at your current job and attending an interview during the day might be a nice change of pace. Even so, you don’t want to arouse suspicion or give your boss a reason for reproach. Instead, do your best to schedule interviews early in the morning or after work. Depending on your company, you may want to take caution if scheduling your interview during lunch as it may run longer than expected. Many hiring managers will understand that it may come as a challenge to schedule an interview and will try to be accommodating.
Be careful of how you handle your references
If you’ve been at a company for a few years, it makes sense to want to put down your current boss as a reference on your resume. Here, you have two options in order to avoid an awkward conversation if your current boss finds out about your job search before you want them to.
Option 1: Try putting “references available upon request” on your resume. While you may feel like you don’t want to make more work for your hiring manager, they’ll most likely understand your decision to keep your references to yourself until later in the hiring process. After all, references checks are supposed to be one of the very last steps of the interview process so holding on to them until later shouldn’t be a problem.
Option 2: There may be job postings that ask you to include references with your application. If that’s the case, include your references on your resume, but add the note “please notify me before contacting this reference.” Just like option one, the hiring manager will most likely understand your reason for adding this note.
Gerald Walsh suggests “In your cover letter, explain that you have not included your current boss as a reference, for confidentiality reasons. You could then state you would be pleased to provide their name and contact information once a conditional offer is made. Offers are often made subject to satisfactory references from your current employer.”
During an interview, letting your prospective employer know that your current company doesn’t know you’re looking for a new job is also a fine way to keep your search on the DL. Many hiring managers may already assume this but you’ll rest easy knowing you’re on the same page.
Make your job as easy as possible
And by “job” we’re talking about your second job of searching for jobs.
Make sure you create a great resume and cover letter template that’s easily editable for each new company and application (also read: How to Edit Your Resume Based on the Job You’re Applying For). Do your best to respond quickly to recruiters’ emails as a faster response rate will ultimately make the process go faster (ie. less time hiding and sneaking around your current job). Also, keep an Excel sheet to keep track of the companies you’ve applied to, interviewed with, who you might need to follow up with, and what tasks you still need to complete.
You’ll also want to make sure that your LinkedIn account is up to date. Since so many use LinkedIn as a professional social network, it shouldn’t raise too many flags if you decide to update it. As a precaution, however, you may want to consider turning off notifications so your connections don’t see any new updates to your profile in their feed.
Keep up your work ethic
While keeping up your motivation to work as hard as you used to might be difficult, you’ll want to do your best to keep things amicable at your current company. To take things a step further, if you plan on using your current boss as a reference, this could be a great chance to remind them how great of an employee you are. Better they’re sad to see you go than happy you’re someone else’s problem now.
Tell your boss and coworkers at the right time
Even if you just landed an interview for your dream job, you might want to wait on sharing the news with coworkers. You DON’T want your boss to hear about your new job through the grapevine. For the most part, it’s probably a good idea to keep the fact that you’re looking for a new job to yourself. Once your new job is set in stone, your supervisor and/or boss should be the first person you tell. (Read: How to Resign from a Job Without Burning Bridges). Not only should your boss be the first person you tell, but this should happen during a face-to-face conversation as well. Then, of course, your letter of resignation will follow. After this conversation, you can feel free to let the rest of your coworkers know you’ll be moving on.
Have you had to handle searching for a job while employed full time? How did you balance work life with your job hunt? Leave your tips in the comments below and share with a friend who’s currently adding their boss to their references list.