How to find a job when you have a job

You are nervous. You have seen the news and realize that long-term security with any company is no guarantee. Perhaps your own company is undergoing a belt-tightening or you have heard rumors of “company restructuring.” In any case, you believe that now may be a good time to investigate potential opportunities with another company.

If you are concerned about future job security, don’t procrastinate and hope that things will turn out for the best. Start now! It is better to be prepared for a change than to have it thrust upon you unexpectedly.

So where to begin? First, avoid the temptation to tell anyone at your present company you are looking for another job. It almost always has a way of getting back to your boss, which could result in you needing another job more quickly than you had envisioned. Caution and discretion are the keys to keeping the job you have.

Update your résumé before contacting potential employers so you can provide one immediately upon request. Prepare a references list of people who know you in a work capacity but don’t include any from your current job.

Begin networking with people who may have an inside track to openings in their companies. Join a local professional group such as Toastmasters or the American Business Woman’s Association. Volunteer for a nonprofit agency that supports a cause you believe in. Offer your expertise and assistance; don’t merely join for what you can get out it. Be a good listener, and don’t be tempted to criticize your current employer. You never know who may relay your discontent to your boss.

Don’t be surprised if the contact to your next position is found where you least expect it. One person told a museum tour guide she was looking for a job as a legal assistant. The tour guide’s fiancé worked at a law firm, who introduced her to a lawyer who offered her a job. The only people you cannot talk to are those at your current company. That leaves the field wide open.

A few more tips on subtle job hunting. Don’t use company office equipment to prepare your résumé or to make phone calls. It isn’t fair to your current employer and makes it more difficult to keep your job search a secret. Rather, use vacation time and time before or after work to go on interviews, write letters and make calls.

Be wary about responding to job postings that don’t mention a company name. Your own employer may have placed the advertisement that “fits” you so well. Only respond to those postings from clearly indentified employers.

Don’t let fear, anger or self-pity keep you from performing well at your current job. Your fears may be unrealistic and your job may be secure. Take advantage of training opportunities to update and improve upon your current skills. Complete the degree you have been putting off. In this competitive job market, it is important to have appropriate credentials and transferable, marketable skills. Prepare yourself well; maintain a positive outlook and you will be prepared for the next step in your successful career.

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