It's widely accepted that the best time to look for a job is when you already have one. And it makes sense. What do you have to lose?
But when you've already got a job, job-hunting can require some tact, strategy and stealth. Here's the right way to explore your options.
Look within (the company)
The employment upgrade you need could be staring you in the face. If you're happy with your workplace but not your role, explore internal opportunities or let your manager know about your ambition.
A performance review or goal-setting conversation is the perfect time to raise the issue, says Cissy Pau, principal consultant at Clear HR Consulting. "It's an opportunity to communicate your interest: 'What opportunities do you think there are for advancement? What training or development do I need to get there?'" she said. "Your manager hopefully has insights into your skill and experience and how it fits other positions in the company."
Update your social media
If it's been a while since you've hunted for a job, your LinkedIn profile may be lagging behind. The trick is updating it without necessarily informing your whole network, which surely includes current co-workers.
Adjust your privacy settings so that your LinkedIn network isn't notified about profile changes so you can sneak your profile tweaks quietly.
Do good work
You're not out the door yet. Besides, what better way to advertise your bountiful skills than by playing a starring role in your current position? If you're looking for a job within your industry, show competitors what they're missing and they might come to you.
"You have to find a balance between looking for a job and doing yours well," said Alan Kearns, career coach and founder of CareerJoy. "That dance can be a bit complex, but it's important as a fundamental starting point."
If you're in a fiercely competitive business, a higher level of discretion is advised.
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Coffee, coffee, coffee
You don't necessarily need to broadcast your interest in a new job, but casual catch-ups over coffee turn to career talk more often than not.
"The best opportunities are going to come through your network and they're not necessarily going to be posted publicly," Kearns said. "I've seen so many examples of someone meeting someone for coffee, one thing leads to another, and suddenly an opening is created for that individual."
Be cautious around conflicts
In some industries, a coffee chat with a rival business might not seem so innocuous. If you're in a fiercely competitive business, a higher level of discretion is advised. And never say anything to undermine your current employer.
If you get to the formal interview stage, it's understandable that you wouldn't want to use your current manager as a reference. But some companies will require a thorough reference check. So what should you do?
"I wouldn't be providing a reference from a current workplace until I have something solid in place," said Lisa Kay, president and lead consultant at Peak Performance Human Resources Corp. "What we've done in the past is ask for a conditional offer, so you have some kind of verbal or written offer saying we're going to make this offer to you contingent on us completing the references. There's always the chance the reference could say something mind-blowing, but if you're confident in the offer, you're probably safe."
If you've decided to leave, give ample notice, offer to ease the transition process in any way you can, and work hard right up until your departure. "You just never know where your boss could show up next," Kearns said. "And who knows where life takes you? Leaving as well as you can is only going to help your situation."
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