How to Find a Job While You Have One


Employers are usually not happy to discover an employee is job hunting.

Conducting a job search is not an easy task when employed full time.

Emails and phone calls related to the job search can be hazardous — observed or overheard.

Job interviews can be difficult to schedule.

Colleagues may — or may not — be safely trusted to protect confidentiality.

The whole process can be extremely hazardous to the continuation of your paycheck.

Do NOT Look Like a “Flight Risk”

In addition to time constraints, there is the sticky situation of your current employer finding out your intentions to leave.

There is no doubt that career mobility is here to stay. Some predict that someday we will all be contractors moving from company to company, project to project. Perhaps, in some fields. But for today, we all have to manage our career progression, and that sometimes means looking for a job while you have one.

How should you conduct your search so that you can still have the option to stay where you are as you compare your potential options? These days, we are more transparent than ever.

Through social media like LinkedIn, anyone can see your profile is up to date. You can also make it clear that you are open to receiving communication regarding Career Opportunities (if you activate that option). But in reality, the up to date profile is not a problem, and most employers are not too concerned about checking every employee’s settings on LinkedIn.

How and what you communicate outwardly can signal yellow flags to your employer that you’re a “flight risk.”

Leverage LinkedIn Discreetly

Within LinkedIn, your Profile Summary should be up to date and can mention what you enjoy working on. In many cases, you’re just reemphasizing current or recent responsibilities within your current job. You can list two areas of interest (where one is current and the other is an area you’d like to consider some day).

Naturally, your entire profile should be up to date. Hopefully, you’ve gotten Recommendations along the way. If you need to grow that section of your Profile, only release one per month — a bunch in one month signals you’re actively working on your Profile which could indicate job hunting.

Obviously, stating you are open to job opportunities will capture the eye of recruiters and hiring managers, but it is pretty risky to do when you are employed. Chances are someone at your company will happen to see it at some point.

Don’t be overly active on LinkedIn. There are automated web tools out there that can tell your employer that you’re active on LinkedIn. Granted the user has to have you as a connection already, but you might be connected to several people at your company you have since forgotten about.

Use Job Boards Very Carefully

If you post your resume on a job board, it can easily be found by Human Resources conducting searches for new potential employees who have a similar background and location as you.

Since resumes are dated and often refreshed, they’ll know you’ve recently put your resume out there for consideration.

Maintain a Public Resume Cautiously

If you have an up to date resume on your web site (which can be found through Google searches), it may be reviewed by recruiters, but many people have a resume on their site as a background for their qualifications.

These days, career-minded professionals keep their resume out there, just in case a Golden Opportunity comes knocking on their door. If anyone asks, it doesn’t mean you’re “actively looking.”

Schedule Job Interviews Meticulously

If you are in an active search, you better save up your vacation days. You can only have so many “doctor or dentist” appointments and sick days in a six-month period without getting a concerned look.

It’s best to anticipate that you’ll need to go on several interviews during the work day. Some hiring companies can conduct interviews early or late in the day, but most will not be available after 6:00 p.m.

If you’re unsure if the job is right for you and don’t want to burn a vacation day to find out, you can request that an informational phone call with HR or a potential peer be the first step.

You can explain that you are being respectful of their time and would like to know more about the role and/or company before tying up their resources in a formal interview process.

Communicate with Recruiters Purposefully

Although external recruiters should be held to the same standards as Human Resources Professionals, some are better than others.

It is important to share with them that you are conducting a confidential search. And they need to share your status with their clients.

It doesn’t hurt to remind recruiters that your resume can only be sent to their client with your permission. This might be common sense to most, but you never know. Some recruiters are new to the process or poorly trained.

What If I’m Approached by My Employer?

There may come a time when your boss asks you if you are searching for a job. The simple answer is:

“I periodically compare my current opportunity against the rest of the world, and I’m still here.

You can convey why you like your job and where your role could use some new responsibilities or projects. You may come to find out the best job out there is the one you have.

Under no circumstances should you use the conversation to say you are not happy and looking to leave. You might find yourself leaving sooner than you planned.

It is harder to land a new job when you have to explain why you were fired.

The Bottom Line

Use common sense in all areas of the job search when communicating about your “availability to new job opportunities.” Make sure your information is up to date so that recruiters can easily understand where you are in your career progression. Maintain the status quo at your current job until you’re ready to put in your two-week or other required notice.

For More Information About Finding a Job While Employed:

More About Working with Recruiters:

Jeff LipschultzAbout the author…

Job-Hunt’s Working with Recruiters Expert Jeff Lipschultz is a 20+ year veteran in management, hiring, and recruiting of all types of business and technical professionals. He has worked in industries ranging from telecom to transportation to dotcom. Jeff is a founding partner of A-List Solutions, a Dallas-based recruiting and employment consulting company. Learn more about him through his company site Follow Jeff on LinkedIn and on Twitter (@JLipschultz).
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