11/02/2016 05:12 EDT | Updated 11/02/2016 05:20 EDT

How To Look For A Job While You Are Still Employed

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Shot of a young businesswoman working on a laptop in an office

Is it time to find a new job? Whatever your reasons, the adage that it's easier to find a job while employed is shared among search professionals and job seekers alike.

Before focusing on getting your next job, carefully consider your current role and list ten reasons to stay and ten reasons to go.

You need to be absolutely sure you want to leave if you are to move your career ahead versus sideways. The thought that, "I'll see what's out there and then decide" can be a waste of your time, not to mention the people who interview you. Your job performance will suffer and your stress will be extended.

Looking for a job is a job unto itself. The more tightly you define your ideal role and research it, the more likely you will find the job you want. It may take time but it will be worth the effort.

Once you have decided to look for a new job while employed, consider these tips:

1. Refer to the 10 reasons you noted for wanting to leave. Write down your ideal job description. Ensure that it describes your ideal industry, your responsibilities, who you would report to, the focus of the division or team you would like to lead, and your compensation. Would you be willing to travel and/or commute? What other concessions would you be willing to make?

2. Consider engaging a search professional who is recommended by colleagues or friends. You may also wish to conduct your own search, navigating the numerous career-related sites (especially LinkedIn) for jobs matching your ideal description.

3. Draw up a short list of your most trusted contacts with whom to meet to review your goals and ideal job description. Share your existing resume with them as well.

4. Depending on the depth of your relationship with your manager, you may be comfortable confiding in him or her that you want to move on. If you want to remain with the company during your search, confirm that you will continue to fulfill your responsibilities to your current employer. Be very cautious using this approach.

Even if you have years of service and are a valued employee, your manager could ask you to leave immediately in order to protect company information. Don't take your manager's response personally if you are asked to resign and leave immediately.

5. Once you decide to start looking, avoid the temptation to seek encouragement or support from work colleagues. The corporate grapevine is far-reaching and news travels fast.

6. Try to schedule interviews before or after office hours. The proverbial "emergency dental appointment" excuse can work once. If you go to the gym regularly at lunch, you can always make a detour (as long as your work out friends at the office don't miss you when you don't show up at the gym.) Leaving the office in your best work attire in the middle of the day for two hours can be stressful and hurt your interview performance. You can also arouse suspicion if your routine suddenly changes.

7. Search professionals and potential employers will probably use discretion when communicating with you. If possible, limit your search related calls to locations outside the office before or after work. Be clear about the best times and ways to reach you to avoid crossed-wires or blatant giveaways that you are looking.

8. If your worst nightmare materializes and your manager asks you point blank if you are looking for another job, be honest. Consider saying one of the following, "I want to expand my career," "I am concerned about my job security," "I am being proactive in exploring other potential options as our industry is always changing." "Exploring my options" is not as damaging as, "I can't stand working here another minute," or something to that effect. Use your Emotional Intelligence and choose the most constructive response.

9. As your job search continues, transfer electronic personal documents including health and other documents to your home computer. When you resign, you may not have an opportunity to remove personal effects before leaving your worksite. (Leave family photos and everything on your desk in tact for as long as possible. It's business as usual as far as your colleagues and clients are concerned.)

10. Be sure to take home only items and information that belongs to you and make sure all company property (including headsets, tablets phones, manuals, art, and lap tops) is clearly visible in your office.

If you continue to do your best work, be professional, and treat colleagues and clients with respect, you can minimize the stress you would otherwise create if you let your dissatisfaction and desire to move on become evident.

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