Unless you’re moving up within the same company, there’s always a bit of an awkward gap between jobs.
That’s because it’s hard to search for a job while you’re still working another one. You don’t want your current employer to be privy to your plans, but you also don’t want to miss out on an opportunity to interview because you’re working — it’s quite the conundrum.
The following seven tips will make the process a bit easier the next time that you attempt to find a new position while holding onto your old one. We can’t promise that your search will go off without a hitch, but following these guidelines will get you as close as possible.
7 Ways to Conduct a Job Search While Employed Full Time
Don’t Clock Out (Mentally)
One of the easiest ways to tell you’re over your job? Acting like you’re over your job. Always maintain your work ethic and positive attitude, even though you’re in the midst of creating an exit strategy. Doing so will lessen suspicion that you’re on the way out and help you maintain a good rapport with your colleagues until the end. You never know when you’ll work with them again, after all.
Search for Jobs at Home Only
No matter how hands-off your employer is, he or she could still happen upon your job-search emails, post-it notes or doodles in your planner. You should be working while at work. No matter how badly you want out, you shouldn’t use your work time to look for a new job.
Searching for a new job while you’re at work can also cause you to feel a bit nervous or paranoid that someone is going to see what you’re doing. The anxiety won’t do much to help you in your search, so productivity is another reason to conduct it in the comfort of your own home.
Stay Mum, and Find Outside References
Here’s one of the biggest issues with searching for a job while you’re still employed: Who will you use as a reference? If you don’t want your co-workers to know you’re leaving, you probably don’t want to use them or your current boss as references.
Find other potential references, and request confidentiality from the new companies in line to interview you. It’s always best to share the news of your departure on your own terms.
Schedule Your Interviews Smartly
You can only fake so many doctor and dentist appointments before your colleagues get suspicious about you leaving every other day after lunch. If you can, schedule a few interviews on the same day, and then take a personal day at your current job.
The same goes for phone interviews, a vital step in the process of acquiring a new job. Most employers won’t be available to chat after work — they’re finished working, too — so try to schedule interviews before work or on your lunch break, so you can enjoy privacy and inconspicuousness.
Dress the Part, Too
Let’s say you happen to schedule an interview after work, or you’re taking a half-day but still working before the interview. You obviously want to make sure you’re looking smart for your interview. If your current office atmosphere is more casual than your interview gear, a professional get-up could cause suspicion that you’re in the process of looking for new jobs, since most people don’t wear business clothes unless they have to. Bring along your outfit and find a place to change before you get to your meeting, so you won’t raise any questions.
Maintain Your LinkedIn Profile
No one will suspect a thing if you update your LinkedIn profile: It’s 2016, and everyone uses the platform for networking purposes. Make sure yours is up to date as you continue your search, so your online presence matches and builds upon the resume you submit. You could even find available positions through the site, or headhunters could find your updated page.
Tell the Truth If Someone Asks
Despite following the above steps, you should be honest if someone realizes what you’re up to. Lying about your intentions will only make your exit even harder. Ultimately, your employer will appreciate the honesty and the early heads-up and will probably remember you in a positive light if you tell the truth.
Finding a new job is never easy, and finding one while you’re already working is an even harder task. With careful consideration of each step in the process, you can make it smooth for all parties involved.