Looking for a Job While Still Working
If you have any employment or job search questions, please call Colleen at 314-539-5481 for assistance in connecting with a career center in the St. Louis Metropolitan area.
"It's easier to get a job when you already have a job." How many times have you heard that old saying? Probably as many times as the equally untrue, "After you adopt a child you'll get pregnant."
The myth about how easy it is to get a job while you still have one was probably started by someone who hadn't had to look for a job in a long time. It may even have been true when jobs were plentiful and the economy running at full steam. In those days (not too long ago, now that I come to think of it), people who were out of work carried the stigma of being lazy, dishonest or incompetent.
These days, with the economy struggling to pull itself out of a recession, being out of work is practically trendy. The stigma isn't there anymore, since most of us know one or more people who are honest, bright, talented - and unemployed. Even head hunters, who never used to want to talk to unemployed people, are now interested in talking with anyone who can help them make a buck.
Despite advances in technology, looking for a job in 2010 is a time consuming process that takes skill, effort, and more than a little luck. It also takes time, which you don't have much of if you're already working. A job search requires that you write many letters, send lots of email, make phone calls, have meetings, and do a great deal of follow up before you get a bonafide job offer. But anyone who makes and receives an unusual number of phone calls on the job, takes longer than usual lunch breaks or takes oddly spaced individual vacation days may be telegraphing their intentions and endangering their current position. The use of the company computer to look for a new job may also jeopardize your current job. Remember that many companies nowadays have electronic monitors that can reveal your use of e-mail and even your exact keyboard strokes to a curious employer. From a practical standpoint, even discounting the ethical issues of using your employer's tools and facilities for your own purposes, you should be careful to conduct your job search activities away from your workplace.
The real advantage to having a job while you're looking is the ability to take your time and make logical career-wise decisions about the job leads you come across. Knowing that turning down an offer won't result in hunger for your children is what makes it easier to find a job when you're already working.
Up to now, a lot of people unhappy in their jobs have been holding back and biding their time. When the recession is really over, and hiring picks up in earnest, there's going to be a lot of competition for whatever openings there are. Even though not a lot of hiring is taking place right now, if you're pretty sure that you want a different position, you should still be out there doing the groundwork for a job search. That includes keeping your resume up to date and maintaining a strong network. That way, when hiring resumes, you'll be a few steps ahead of the pack.
And speaking of networking, perhaps you've heard this saying on your father's knee: "It's not what you know, it's who you know." Besides being grammatically problematic, it's also not exactly accurate. The fact is, it's not whom you know, it's who knows you. When applied to a job search, it means that you have to make the effort to meet people in person to help them get to know you as a real live person, not just a voice on the phone or a signature below an e-mail. People have to really know you and like you before they'll go out of their way to help you. They have to feel confident enough in you to know that they won't be embarrassed if they refer you on to others. After all, networking often means calling in favors. People won't do that for a virtual stranger, no matter how well recommended you are.
The bottom line is that conducting a job search these days is not like it was in the "good old days." You probably already know that a modern job search takes a lot more than just making a few phone calls or sending some e-mail. It takes time, organization, and above all, the assistance of others, many of whom have been in your situation.
A lot of charm and a little chutzpah couldn't hurt either.