Question: If you’re already happily employed, why would you be looking for another job?
Answer: You should always be thinking one step ahead.
Just because you have a great job now doesn’t mean it’s time to throw out your resume and kick your feet up on the desk. You never know what might come around the corner. Maybe the company goes under, maybe you’re fired or laid off, maybe your friend tells you about a hot new opportunity – maybe someday soon, you want a career change! It never hurts to have too many options. In life and in your career, it’s always a good idea to plan for the future and keep your options open.
Also, did you know that as a gainfully employed individual on the market, you’re already the cream of the crop in the eyes of recruiters? You’re what’s called a passive candidate – someone who isn’t actively searching for a job but would be open to the possibility of a new career. An attractive resource, passive candidates have a lot more clout when it comes to negotiating job offers compared to their unemployed counterparts.
So what’s the professional protocol for navigating this sticky situation? You can’t just start flinging your resume to whoever’s hiring – that would be decidedly unprofessional to your current employer and to yourself. Here are a few things to think about as you move forward:
Don’t broadcast your intentions: You don’t want the whole world to know you’re looking for a job. Imagine If your current employer found out – the repercussions would be severe. Besides, a good business rule of thumb to abide by is, “never burn any bridges.” So in order to abstain from career suicide – don’t look for jobs while you’re at work, don’t blab about it to your co-workers and don’t leave your resume in the photocopy machine! You should really even think twice before applying through a general corporate website; network with hiring managers directly and understand who will have possession of your resume.
Timing is everything: You won’t have much free time to launch a full-scale investigative job search campaign. Instead exercise your best time management skills and make every moment count as you network and follow up on opportunities. You may find yourself researching companies after work in the evening and making phone calls early the next morning. Avoid resume blackholes like general employment websites and general recruitment marketing job postings on job boards.
Aim high: Remember, as you move up the career ladder, put your best foot forward and give it your best shot. This is your chance to position yourself as a very strong candidate. You can make demands and set your sights on your real career goals, not just a short-term salary or job location target.
If you have a job in this economy, you have a lot to be thankful for. Especially if you enjoy your work and are paid decently, it’s often best to try to succeed with your current employer. However, there is no reason to ever put your head in the sand. Even if you are happily employed, keep an eye on what’s out there in the job market. Keep a close network of professional associations and don’t be afraid to always be looking for your next job - especially for that one truly exceptional career opportunity. Good luck out there!