The old adage about it being easier to find a job while still employed holds a kernel of truth. Interviewing for a position without having to explain any gaps in employment history is an asset, but conducting a job search while trying to hold onto a current position is filled with pitfalls. Following a few basic rules of etiquette and protocol can smooth the way, making for an efficient transition into a new role without damage to your professional reputation.
To keep a job search under the radar, do not reveal your plans to co-workers. You cannot ensure their silence once your secret is in their hands. Considering that most workplaces are also rumor mills, keeping mum on your short-term career plans is a politically smart move. That way your boss won’t have reason to question your loyalty before your next position is already lined up.
Resist using company telephones and email to conduct a job search. You never know who may overhear your conversation or have access to your emails. In many ways a job search is a private thing and you should use a private phone and personal email to contact prospective employers.
No matter how anxious you are to find alternative employment, do not search for such work during the hours when your boss is expecting you to work for him. You do not know how long you will have to remain at your present job, so maintaining your productivity and the quality of your work is important. Use breaks, the lunch hour, and the hours before and after work to look for jobs and sending out resumes.
Using the office supplies at your current job to search for a new one is definitely not a classy move. Do not print your resumes and cover letters on the office’s paper and do not mail them in the office’s envelopes. Use your own stamps instead of the postage meter. There is no excuse for making your boss unwittingly foot the bill for your job search.
Interviewing for a new position while still at a current job can be particularly tricky. The first difficulty is scheduling an interview. Try to miss a minimal amount of hours at your current job. If at all possible, interviews should be kept to lunch hours or the hours before or after your typical work day. If that does not work for your prospective employer, then you may have to use some of your personal time in order to arrange to be away from the office. Be as vague about the reasons for your absence as you can. If you must give a reason, state that you have an appointment. If your boss needs more details, you may mention a medical appointment. However, it is important to avoid lying if at all possible. Sticking as close to the truth as possible is a good way to keep your job hunt a secret.
The other problem with interviewing while still employed involves dress codes. Your current office may be quite casual, but the place where you hope to work may be more formal in its standards. Even if the prospective office is fairly casual, you will probably want to look your best for an interview. Do not raise the suspicions of your co-workers and boss by showing up for work in a suit and tie when you typically wear a polo shirt and khakis. On the day of your interview, bring a change of clothes to the office and make a quick change somewhere along the way to your meeting. Do not change in the building where you are currently employed, and do not forget to change back if you must return to work.
Looking for a new job while currently employed may have its share of challenges, but by observing a few ethical guidelines, it is possible to do so with tact and dignity.