How to look for a job while working full time

Thinking of getting a new job? If you’re looking to take a different step along your career path it might be time to start getting to a few interviews. And chances are you’re going to have to conduct your search while still working full time. While it’s not against any rules to look for another job - in fact most people will have to do it this way due to income - your current employer may not take too kindly to your search. If they find out your manager may take it personally, view it as a lack of loyalty and treat you differently in your role. Employers want someone loyal and committed.So, to that end, here’s 10 ways to look for a job while working full time, and still save face.

1. Keep it all under wraps

We understand that it can be difficult to stay quiet about your job search - it’s the start of an exciting new time in your life, after all! But if you tell one coworker you may as well be telling all of them. Avoid speaking about any aspect of your search, from recruiters who don’t get back to you to whether or not an interview went well. This also means staying quiet on social media. Some employers may keep tabs on their staff’s Twitter and Facebook accounts and you never know who is a friend of a friend. Avoid posting anything that even remotely relates to you attending interviews while employed, even if it’s just a “Wish me luck!” or “Exciting things happening!”

2. Update your LinkedIn

Before you say that you have your boss on LinkedIn, don’t worry. There’s a handy little feature that you can activate that lets recruiters know that you are looking for a new place to work. So if any recruiters come across your profile and think you’re a good fit, they’ll know you’re open to receiving a message.Speaking of LinkedIn, you should always be keeping it up-to-date. But it’s important not to broadcast you’re thinking of moving elsewhere. First things first, turn off notifications so your connections aren’t immediately told when your profile is updated. And secondly, make sure your skills reflect your current position, and don’t make any drastic changes, both of which can act as a tip-off.

3. Avoid job boards

You never know where your CV might end up if you just send it out into the online world. Plus, nothing says you’re thinking of leaving like dozens of emails and phone calls from a recruiter during working hours. Remember that the best opportunities often come from networking and direct applying with companies.

4. Avoid current references

While your current manager may leave you a glowing reference in theory, many potential employees will check with references in advance of inviting you in for an interview. Avoid putting yourself in an awkward position by listing your references as ‘Available on request’, or by using previous employers.

5. Book your interviews smartly

If you start booking a lot of Fridays off or suddenly taking more “doctor’s appointments” at 9am, you’re going to start raising suspicion. Ask your interviewers for breakfast or lunch meetings, or after you finish for the day. If it just can’t help but being scheduled between 9 and 5, we’d suggest arranging to work from home or booking the day as annual leave.

6. Don’t self-sabotage

Even if you have your heart completely set on leaving your current job, don’t throw in the towel just yet. It’s vital that you keep putting in 110% so you get your good references, don’t burn any bridges and, most importantly, don’t get let go prematurely!Don’t be the person who picks arguments or fights, don’t have a “couldn’t care less attitude” and don’t stop doing your daily responsibilities, and don’t use your work laptop or phone to organise interviews. Stay completely focused on your work.

7. Don’t dress differently

This all depends on your office’s specific dress code, but if your business is more jeans and t-shirt casual and you want to head to your interview in a suit and tie, you might stick out like a sore thumb wearing the latter. Store your interview outfit in the car and change in the bathroom when you arrive. 

8. Ask for discretion

Most recruiters and HR will understand that you will require discretion in your job search, and would not do anything that could risk letting your current employer know. However, it’s wise to state your need to keep things on the down low straight away. If they’re not willing to honour your request, find someone else to help you out.

9. Be honest

Sometimes, even despite their best efforts, employers can get wind of someone looking elsewhere. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t lie. Although that may be your first instinct, it will surely come back to bite you later on, and your boss won’t appreciate the deception. Some managers will want to understand more about why you want to leave and they may even want to work with you to try and improve things where you are currently. Sometimes they just don’t want to lose a good person!

10. Think big decisions through

Moving jobs is a big life decision, so make sure you take the time to think things through properly. Avoid doing anything rash, even if you’re convinced it’s in the bag from a great interview. Nothing is done until you have accepted the new position and signed on the dotted line, so don’t hand in a notice until it’s a sure thing.Of course, sometimes you may start searching only to realise that you’re quite happy where you are. If that’s the case, just slow down your job search, but don’t stop. There might always be a better opportunity out there, so keep your eyes and ears open. Just remember it’s ok to enjoy and grow where you are.