For many professionals, finding a new job can seem overwhelming. It can become all the more intimidating when you're already employed. How can you search for a new position without violating company policies and general etiquette standards or tipping off your boss that you're leaving? Here are some of the key rules to follow:
Don't use company resources. Ask yourself: "Would my manager be okay with me using the fax machine, copier, phones or Internet to conduct my job search?" If the answer is no - and no doubt that's the case - then you shouldn't be doing it. It isn't right ethically to have your current employer fund your job hunt. Your activity also may be caught easily by other employees or monitoring technology, so it's simply not worth the risk.
Take your search away from the office. Use your lunch hour to check e-mails on your laptop at a local wireless access point or at the library, and return calls from hiring managers on your cell phone. Prospective employers will understand that you're not able to respond to their messages immediately and will respect the fact that you don't conduct job searches on company time.
Time interviews well. When possible, schedule interviews before or after work or during your lunch hour. This will minimize the need to come up with creative excuses for being out of the office. If hiring managers can't meet with you during your downtime, consider taking a personal day for interviews.
Keep up appearances. One of the biggest clues someone is job-hunting is their clothing. When you work in a very casual office and suddenly start wearing suits or components of suits, people will connect the dots. So, find a place to stop along the way to or from interviews to change clothes.
Use caution with references. If you want to use current colleagues as references, be sure that you trust them to maintain confidentiality about your search and that they're in a position to discuss your job performance and work style. Remember, too, that it's acceptable to list prior managers as references, but not current managers.
Don't slack off. Remain committed to giving your all at your current company. Even if you're eager to move on to another job, it's critical to stay focused. If you're constantly disappearing to take calls on your cell during your firm's big server upgrade, for instance, you may not only tip off your manager that you're job hunting but you also may end up with a bad reference later on.
Conducting a job search while you're employed is challenging. But if you play by the rules and show respect to both your current and prospective employer, you can feel good about your actions and leave on the best possible terms.
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