Job Seeker Blog - Spark Hire

How to Job Search While Employed

If you’re a regular reader of Spark News, then you are fully aware that the job market is, slowly but surely, starting to pick back up again. The unemployment rate has slowly lowered and each month there is a good chunk of new jobs added to the market. As things begin to slowly pick up, chances are that employees currently unhappy with their position will build up the needed confidence and start looking around for a new job.

Just six months ago, and still today, there was likely a large portion of employees unhappy with their current position or level in the workplace. Had the job market been healthy and stable, these people would have probably left their jobs months ago because, let’s face it, no one wants to be unhappy with their job. However, with the unemployment rate reaching record highs and people being laid-off left and right, it wasn’t a good idea to leave your job- even if it was terrible. A paycheck is still a paycheck and you don’t abandon money in your pocket when times are tough. Now, though, as it seems the job market and economy are both picking up, the chances of these people still staying at their unsatisfactory jobs are very low.

That leads us to the meat of this article. How to job search while still employed. The situation can get tricky and you may feel like you’re cheating on your significant other, slinking around the office with your secret and sneaking out to catch a phone call for a potential interview, but it is usually necessary. Even if the market is picking up, it’s not wise to quit your current job until you have another job lined up and ready to go. In order to do that, you have to woo other employers while still getting your work done for your current one. It can get complicated sometimes, but it’s definitely manageable. Follow some of these tips for mastering how to job search while employed and remember that no job, no matter how much you make, is worth being unhappy and dissatisfied everyday. Search for a job you’ll be happy with and strive your hardest to get it- whether you’re currently employed or not.

1. Keep it on the Down Low
R. Kelly was up to something when he told everyone to keep their creepin’ on the down low. He’s right, nobody has to know. Like I mentioned earlier, you may really feel like you’re cheating on your current employer, so in that case, keep your lunch time escapades and interviews to yourself. You may be really excited about an interview you snagged with an awesome company, and Ed from Marketing might be super happy for you too, but offices talk and if you tell one person you’re looking for a new job it’s very likely that everyone else will know by the end of the week. To avoid other people spilling your valuable beans all over the company floor, keep your job search to yourself until you actually accept a job offer.

2. Job Search On YOUR Time
You may absolutely hate your boss and his lame jokes, but that doesn’t mean you should search for new position on his or her time. You may have mentally checked out of this place, but you’re still receiving a paycheck from this person and if you want to continue receiving that paycheck, you’ll keep your job search on your own time. This can definitely make things difficult, I know, but it is an essential part of being professional and courteous as you search for a new job. If someone calls you to talk about a job while you’re working at your current job, briefly step outside and set up a time during your lunch break to call them back.

3. Make Use of Your Lunch Break
Much like the above tip, it isn’t wise to take off work to interview with another employer. If it is absolutely imperative that you do, however, and you are willing to take that risk, by all means go for it. Instead, try and make full use of your lunch break and schedule interviews around that time. Lunch interviews can be a great way to really talk to an employer in a relaxed setting. They will also appreciate the respect you have for your current employer’s time. However, lunch interviews are not really for entry-level jobs and are more common higher up on the corporate chain. If you are too far to set-up an interview on your lunch break, or looking for an entry-level type position, then you will probably have to take a personal day and schedule a couple interviews for that day. I wouldn’t schedule more than three in a day though, since more than that may burn you out.

4. Use Your Personal Email and Phone
Like I stated before, you should be searching for this new job on your own time and using your own personal means of communication. This one isn’t just out of respect, though. A lot of companies check their employees’ email and phone lines to check up on them and see what they are doing. If your employer sees emails from other companies and phone calls as well, then it’ll probably be obvious to them what you’re doing. You do not want your employer to find out that you are job searching, because they may let you go right then and there. If you don’t want to work there anymore, they may not want you working there either. You want to leave on your own time, when you’re ready. So keeping your job search confidential is key.

5. References
You are currently employed and you don’t want your current employer to know you are job searching. Therefore, you cannot use them as a reference. Instead, you will have to use your former employers as references. If the company you are interviewing with asks about your current work situation, it would be wise to say that you are currently employed and trying to keep it confidential so you would be happy to give him former employers, but your current employer cannot be used as a reference. If they are a good employer, they will understand your wishes and use your former employers instead. It’s important to note though how big of a difference your references can make. That is why you should call your references before you begin your job search to tell them they may receive a call about you in the near future. That way, when they do receive a phone call about you, they are ready to answer. If they’re not expecting a call, they may be confused or even struggle to remember how you were as a worker there.

6. Remember, You’re Still Employed
Even though you are heavily searching for a new position, you have to remember that you are still currently employed. Searching for a job can take up a lot of your time and energy, so you need to make sure you aren’t starting to slack off at work. As I stated earlier, you may have mentally and emotionally checked out of this job already, but you still work there and you are still receiving a paycheck, so unless you want your income to disappear without having a new job lined up, you have to make sure you are getting the work for your current employer completed. Furthermore, if you keep the relationship civil and leave on good terms you can use this employer as a future reference. This is what you want, so staying on top of your current work is essential.

7. Dress
In the interest of secrecy and keeping your job search on the down low, you want to make sure that you aren’t dressing differently than you normally do. If your current job allows for you to dress casually and you stroll into work on Wednesday in full-on interview attire for your lunch meeting, then your co-workers and boss may get a bit suspicious. In this case it’s a good idea to keep a change of clothes in your car. That way, you don’t have to worry about looking suspicious and others will have no idea you are going to an interview on your lunch break.

8. Negativity
So, you’re looking for a new job because your current boss is disrespectful, rude and has no regard for your time, etc, etc. That’s all fine and great, or terrible and unappealing I should say, but you should keep all of these opinions to yourself. If you are in an interview and the employer asks you why you are leaving your current position, it would be wise of you to keep the negativity at bay. In other words, “I’m looking to expand my skills and grow more as an employee” is way better than “I absolutely hate my boss.” The latter may be true, but that’s not going to get you in any great position with this new employer. If you badmouth your current boss, what’s to stop you from badmouthing them when you want to get out of that job? Keep it friendly, keep it kind and you’ll go much farther.

IMAGE: Courtesy of 3Story

Nicole Nicholson

Nicole is the Content Editor for Spark Hire and mainly writes for and edits the work for the Spark News blog. She graduated in 2010 with a BA in Journalism from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. She has a passion for writing, editing, and pretty much anything to do with content. In her free time she frequents the Chicago music scene and writes reviews on shows for her own personal blog. Connect with Nicole and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter