The best time to look for a job is when you’re not looking.
A head hunter recently gave me this piece of sage advice after I told her that I was happy in my current position. This statement really made me think. Looking for a job when you’re still happily employed means…
- You’re not desperate. Since you’re not begging everyone and their mom to give you a job, your self-confidence is still in tact. I’m sure having a healthy self esteem helps your job search. Employers can smell the desperation. You’re also more desirable to recruiters when you have a job title and a business card.
- You’re financially stable. Having a steady stream of income while job hunting helps in so many ways. You can afford to buy a nice suit. You can hold out longer in a salary negotiation for higher pay. Your landlord or family won’t be pressuring you to take whatever paying job that comes along.
- You can set a high bar. Since you have time on your side, you can be selective in your options, waiting until an exciting opportunity comes along. You don’t have to settle for the first offer that comes along in fear of a prolonged gap on your resume. Especially if you’re happy at your current job, the new opportunity would have to really go above and beyond your current situation, where you already enjoy the work and where you’ve already built a network and track record.
- You learn more about yourself. The aforementioned head hunter pitched me a job that made me realize how much I really like my own job. It also made me realize what areas I like about it and what areas I would like for it to improve.
When we’re in a job, we often get too comfortable until we’re not (because we’re bored, overworked, or unappreciated). And that’s when we start looking for the next gig…whether it’s because you’re desperate to leave, asked to leave, or already voluntarily (or involuntarily) unemployed. From this piece of advice, I think we need to keep our eyes open at all times for opportunities that may come within or outside your current organization.
So the next question is: how do you passively look for a job (either internal or external)? Unless you have Peter Thiel‘s track record and high profile, it’s unlikely that headhunters and others would be calling you every second for a new and exciting opportunity.
- Learn more about what opportunities you would be interested in. As mentioned, the bar for the next big thing should be high, but also make sure you make the bar specific. For example, if you love everything about your job except for the availability of international opportunities, then make sure you look out for opportunities similar to your job with a global slant.
- Keep your LinkedIn profile in tip top shape. This head hunter (and others) found me through LinkedIn. It’s important that you keep your information up-to-date. Also, putting a professional picture (that doesn’t make you look like Mr. Burns from The Simpsons) probably helps as well.
- Stay connected to your network. Whether it’s your school’s alumni club or even ex-co-workers, catch up with them on a periodic basis. See what they are up to and maybe they’ve stumbled upon opportunities that may interest you.
- Talk to your mentors, boss, and co-workers. If you do like your job, then chances are you like your organization. Why not casually talk to your co-workers to see what other job vacancies are around the organization? Also, if you know what you are looking for, then it could even be helpful to steer your boss / mentors by saying…”For my next position at XYZ company, I would love to get more exposure to [insert what you’re looking for]”.
Once you have opportunities lined up before you, the difficult part then is to decide if and when to switch. But I guess that’s a good problem to have…