male thief holding laptop on wallIt’s just possible you’re only at the stage of thinking about a new job, which is probably how you landed on this site. Even if you’re just thinking about – and not actively pursuing – a new job, there are things you can do to get started on the sly for your career change.

Priscilla Claman, writing at The Harvard Business Review, says, “Looking for a job can be discouraging and embarrassing, if not downright humiliating. You can be rejected without reason, asked questions you’d rather not answer, or be judged based on criteria you don’t understand. Not to mention you’re putting your career — and even your sense of self — on the line.”

So what would she have you do? Claman, president of Career Strategies, Inc., a Boston-based firm offering career coaching to individuals and career management services to organizations, says, “I’m not suggesting you jump ship every time you are bored at work. But it’s often a good idea to analyze your current situation for signs that there could be something better. If you’re stuck in a bad job, your symptoms might be: boredom, complaining, blaming, feelings of frustration and anger, or even a sick feeling on Sunday evenings because you dread going to work on Monday.”

Claman advises taking these five steps to be ready to hunt for a new job when the time is right: be prepared, change at least some of the content of your job, look for a new job at your current employer, closely track your network, and do something new every year. As she points out, “Searching for a new job doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing activity.”

Let’s look at her five steps in order. Preparation involves updating your resume and clearly stating your career interests. Claman suggests feeling out colleagues discreetly for career advice, which could lead to you attaining your goals.

Your job content could change, especially if your organization has downsized, by volunteering to take on new responsibilities. “In particular, volunteer for any cross functional projects that put you in contact with senior colleagues. If you succeed, you may be relieved of some of your current duties,” Claman counsels.

A new job may not require changing companies, according to Claman. She says, “Where are new jobs being created? Are there some possibilities for you there? Make some connections where they are hiring, and apply for those jobs.”

Network maintenance means keeping in touch, especially with co-workers who have moved on to other jobs and people who you studied with at college (presuming you’re not mid-career at this point and/or have been in contact). Stay in touch periodically, so you can activate this network when you need to,” she says.

A way to keep your network fresh is to do something new every year, Claman suggests, like a new volunteer opportunity or taking a class. “Make sure you meet new people and have their contact information. If you are thinking about a new career, focus this activity in the new career area,” she adds.

By the way, that try something advice works well if you quit your job because it has become too much. Steven DeMaio, also writing at The Harvard Business Review, suggests, ” … allow yourself the luxury of professional and personal experimentation. Financial constraints must be respected, of course, but some of your experiments can take the form of paid part-time or short-term work in domains that you’ve never explored. Be bold in saying yes when it comes to things with a limited commitment. Indeed, it’s healthy to establish a new routine shortly after you quit, one that consists of new activities that hold promise but don’t lock you down.”

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