How to find a job – without losing your job (10 tips)

Posted by Tilt Recruitment on June 8th, 2021

How to find a job – without losing your job (10 tips)

Posted by Tilt Recruitment on June 8, 2021

Looking for a new job while you’re still employed comes with advantages (you’ll look good to potential employers) – but it also comes with risks. Here’s how to handle your job search without getting yourself fired.

1. Explore the options where you are

Why are you planning to leave? Is there a way you could get what you’re looking for with your current employer? Even if it’s something that seems like a big ask, most employers would rather be asked than left in the lurch. And if there’s someone at work you can really trust to keep a secret, talk to them about the possibility of a promotion or a sideways move.

Having said that, if the problem is your employer’s attitude – if it’s clear that they don’t value you and aren’t invested in your long-term growth – it’s time for a sharp exit.

2. Consider going back to your old job

If you left a past job on good terms, get back in touch and see if there are opportunities available. While leavers used to be seen as disloyal and not welcome back, “boomerang employees” are now valued because they’re low-risk hires who need much less time to get up to speed.

It’s also worth getting back in touch with companies who gave you an offer you turned down in the past. Just tell them that even though accepting the offer wasn’t quite right for you at the time, you were really impressed with them and would love to catch up.

3. Know when to look

Being employed means you can bide your time and look when the competition is lowest. Late summer, especially August, is a great time, as most people wait to start looking until September, when the holidays are over and the kids are back at school.

4. Keep it secret, keep it safe

Some companies will let you go if they find out you’re actively looking for a new job. Definitely don’t let on to your boss or colleagues that you’re going to interviews. (That includes not showing up at the office in your interview suit and blathering about going to “a wedding” or a particularly swanky doctor’s appointment.)

However, that doesn’t mean you should lie to your boss. If they ask you directly, say something like, “I don’t want to leave, it’s just that there’ve been a lot of changes here recently and I’m a bit nervous. I’m just thinking about Plan B.”

5. No looking for work at work

Don’t do your jobhunting on company time or on company devices. Even if it’s not spotted directly, looking for jobs instead of doing your job will lead to underperformance, which isn’t going to get you a great reference.

Recruiters understand the need for discretion, so be honest with them about your needs, and try and have your calls and meetings during off-hours or lunchbreaks.

It’s a good idea to list specific times when you’re contactable on your CV – and a very bad idea to make any of those contacts your work email or phone number.

6. Use social media wisely

Don’t update your LinkedIn profile only when you’re looking for a new job – it’s a dead giveaway. Instead, tinker with it constantly, making it a living record of who you are and what you’re working on now. Employers actually love this because it can boost their employer brand.

If you’re using LinkedIn to look for work, turn off your public notifications so your boss doesn’t see your new status of “open to new job possibilities” or get notified when you do a major overhaul.

Also, keep schtum about your job search on all social media. Many companies monitor them for employee activity. If you must use them, keep your profiles locked down and make sure any job-related posts and messages are private.

7. Use your network

Most employers think referrals from current employees are the best hires, so talk to friends, family and professional contacts about any jobs they can recommend you for. It’s also worth checking out any virtual or IRL career fairs or networking events in your area.

8. Don’t throw your CV around too freely

Be selective when giving your CV to people, and tell them that you’re giving it to them in confidence. And you definitely shouldn’t be posting it on public job boards.

9. Don’t speak ill of your boss

Just like dates, employers and recruiters don’t want to hear about everything that went wrong with your last relationship. If you can’t say anything positive about your boss, at least keep it neutral. Things have changed at the company, or you’ve progressed as far as you can and are looking for the next step in your career.

10. How to handle references

Only ask someone from your current job for a reference if you absolutely trust them or if they’ve also left themselves. Instead, you can ask previous employers for references. Don’t give anyone’s contact details as a reference without clearing it with them first, and explaining that your job search is confidential.

Despite all these caveats, looking for a job while having a job does give you a great advantage: most employers prefer to hire someone who’s employed.

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