Looking for a job while you already have one can be stressful, especially in the age of social media when privacy is scarce. You don’t want to rock the boat at your current company, but you want to find the next great opportunity. Should you tell your boss you’re looking? How do you handle references? If you get an offer, is one months’ notice really enough? Since how you leave your current job can be as important to your career as how you perform in the next one, you need to know the answers to these questions.
The job market is generally tough right now but that doesn’t mean you’re have to stay in your current role and adopt the better the devil I know….. approach. If you’ve heard rumors of redundancies or you’ve simply outgrown your current job, it’s OK to look. The job market is more active than most people think. There are plenty of people who are leaving jobs and finding jobs. Of course, searching for a job while trying to stay employed is tricky. But if you manage it skillfully, you’ll be able to move on without burning bridges. Just follow these principles:
Do your homework
The first step to any job search is a thorough analysis of what you want and how you benchmark against the competition. Then reality-check that with the market. Are there jobs out there that have the characteristics you’re searching for? Do you have the right qualifications? To help you assess, turn to trusted advisers such as friends in your field or search consultants.
Consider internal options first
Once you know what you want, start your search inside your company. All too often people prematurely decide to start looking elsewhere instead of managing a creer move within the current organisation. There may be internal opportunities that will satisfy your needs, such as reshaping your job, moving to another team, or taking on a special project. If opportunities are limited or you’re certain you want out of the company, then take your search outside.
Keep it secret if necessary
Many people have to keep their search quiet. Perhaps you don’t have a strong relationship with your boss, or you worry about some of your colleagues finding you out, or you fear you won’t find another position and don’t want to risk the embarrassment. In these cases, it’s best not to let anyone at your current employer know you’re looking.
If there is a colleague you trust, however, consider sharing the news. Divulging your search to another person can help build momentum and make contacts. This will commit you to actually and properly look for a new job. Networking is the key to any successful job hunt particularly these days. You can network so long as you do it carefully. Be causal and say something like you’re always looking for good opportunities. Don’t say I’m dying to get out of my current role as unless there is a very obvious reason, like a company is closing down as its smacks of desperation
When to tell your boss
No boss likes to find out from someone else that one of her direct reports is looking for a new job. You should therefore tell your manager as soon as you’re comfortable doing so. There are risks: He may try to make it difficult for you to interview or give you a poor reference. He may treat you differently knowing you want to leave. But there are several upsides to having an open discussion with your boss. First, he may be able to help you identify opportunities inside or outside your organization. Second boss may make it easier for you to look for a new job. Third, you will build good will. Your boss will appreciate your honesty and the opportunity to plan ahead for your departure. All that said, if you know your manager will have a negative reaction, and is unlikely to support you, it’s best to wait until after you have an offer to inform her.
Interview on your own time
Most employers will want to interview you during normal business hours. Don’t sneak off for fake meetings or feign being sick. Fit the interviews into your schedule without cheating your current employer. If your boss tracks your every move, take vacation or personal time. If your manager is suspicious, explain that you have a personal issue you need to tend to.
Provide the right references
If your current manager doesn’t know you’re job-hunting, you obviously can’t use him as a reference. Provide the names of previous employers or give the name of a trusted colleague at your present company who is aware of your search and can speak to your performance. If a hiring manager insists on a reference directly from your boss, explain that you can provide one at the point of offer.
Don’t accept the counteroffer
Some employers will counteroffer when you announce you are leaving. We urge caution when contemplating these offers as these are usually vague promises about more money and more responsibility. In most cases when people accept the counteroffer, they end up leaving, or even being fired, shortly thereafter.
Leave on good terms
The convention for giving notice is one month. However some people, especially those in senior positions or who are in the midst of a big project, are contracted to give more. Anywhere between one month and two months is usually enough once you have really made up your mind. No matter how bad things are, don’t just walk out the door. Leaving on bad terms can be dangerous for future prospects.