We’ve all heard the old cliché: “looking for a job is a full-time job.” But it doesn’t have to be if you are highly focused and organized. And if you’re serious about changing your circumstances, it’s critical to set aside time each week to research new roles. Searching for a new position while still working can be tricky. But it is possible to job hunt in a way that is discreet and respectful to your current employer.
Consider internal positions
The first thing to think about when considering a job hunt is whether you are dissatisfied with the role or the company. If you are happy in the current environment, it may be worthwhile to explore other positions internally. Think about what frustrates you about your current job and consider whether some changes could make things better. Would a hybrid work schedule improve your situation? Or perhaps you can move to another functional area. Think about what you can do to make your current situation more fun and rewarding. If you decide that the company’s values no longer align with your own or that there aren’t any growth opportunities, it’s time to look externally.
Set a strict schedule during your job hunt
Once you’ve decided that it’s time to move on, the next step is to schedule your time wisely. Block out time on your calendar each week for job hunting. That approach will help you stay focused and ensure you still have ample time for the other things in your life like working out, reading books, and meeting with friends. Whatever the time of day, make sure you set aside time when you’ll be motivated and productive. For example, if you are a rockstar in the morning, reserve an hour a day before work to focus on your job search. Or, if you’re most efficient in the evening, use an hour a day before bedtime to research target companies.
Leverage social media for your job hunt
In recent years, social media has become a valuable job search tool that many potential candidates underestimate. In a LiveCareer survey of recruiters and hiring managers, Facebook emerged as the leading platform for managing your professional social media presence (74%), followed by LinkedIn (56%) and Instagram (49%). And as many as 68% of recruiters said job seekers need a LinkedIn profile in 2021. Use social media to learn more about organizations you’re interested in and identify decision makers at your target companies. Establish yourself as a thought leader by commenting on posts and contributing valuable content. Reach out to people at your target companies and personalize the invitation to give some context. Once you hear back from them, set up a phone call to get to know them better and learn about the culture. Creating and nurturing genuine relationships is at the heart of using social media when you are job hunting. Just make sure to avoid alerting your current employer by updating your privacy settings and using services that mask your identity when posting your résumé online.
Document your accomplishments before you job hunt
I can’t tell you how many of my clients have gotten bogged down with their day-to-day work, only to emerge years later, not having documented their many illustrious achievements. At that point, it will be difficult to recall what all those work accomplishments were. Make it a point to track your professional successes throughout the year. You can use many different formats, including a handwritten journal, spreadsheet, Google Docs or even Trello. Some suggestions of items to document include financial goals you reached, cost savings, positive feedback from peers or superiors, complex situations that you resolved, awards and any certifications or courses you completed. Don’t be shy. Document everything—no item is too small.
Ask for recommendations organically
Recommendations are a critical part of any job hunt. But the time to ask for references isn’t when you have one foot out the door. Ask for recommendations now, especially on LinkedIn. Ideally, you’ll want to approach people who know your work well and can speak intelligently to the capabilities that will matter the most to future employers. LinkedIn will default to a generic request message, so make sure you personalize it to get the best response. Also try to space out your requests, so you don’t ask too many people at once. That’s because they’re date stamped, and recruiters will see that they didn’t come in organically.
Obviously, when still employed, you’ll want to be discreet. But you do need to network selectively. Use the 80/20 rule: spend 80% of your time networking and 20% of your time applying to job openings. Historically, the hidden job market was about unadvertised jobs. Now it’s about getting to hiring managers and recruiters early in the process, ideally, before the position is posted. Focus your energy on building relationships to gain access to inside information about opportunities that haven’t been posted yet. Start with people you know, then reach out to friends of friends. Determine who the decision-makers are at your target companies and ask them for a virtual coffee to learn more about the culture. Try to find networking events that can connect you to the right people. By far, the fastest way of entering the job interview process with a company is to be referred.
Conducting a job hunt while still employed can be a long process, so remember to reward yourself along the way. Treat yourself to a movie, massage or your favorite latte to celebrate your progress—even if you haven’t landed any interviews yet. You’ll enjoy the journey so much more and will be in a more positive frame of mind when the ideal opportunity finally presents itself.