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8 tips for job hunting while you're still employed

Rich Hein | Feb. 13, 2013
Job hunting while you're still working in your current position can be a double-edged sword. Candidates who are employed are typically more attractive to employers. However, it can be dangerous. Learn what it takes to balance your current job and your career search--without getting cut.

What Should You Do If Your Boss Asks You Directly?

If your boss asks you if you are looking, don't lie. "It may be best to be straightforward with your employer. You are at risk of being let go in this situation, depending on your past performance and standing with the company," says Lilly.

That said, there are some ways to spin it, according to the experts: "Lots of changes are happening here lately. I don't want to leave, but I'm a little nervous and just thinking about Plan B," Burns says, is one way to handle it.

Don't Be Careless With Your Resume

Be selective about who you give your resume to and explain to those who do get your resume that your job search is confidential. "Spamming your resume is bad business. It does not work and if you are currently employed, you are easily ferreted out when you respond to online inquiries. Even providing your resume to be privately circulated is a risk. There are no secrets," says West.

Lilly echoes that sentiment and takes it one step further. You also want to keep your resume confidential when posting it on job boards. Keep your LinkedIn profile updated, but be careful when you connect with recruiters. Your network sees that too and may create alerts as you start your search," says Lilly.

Don't Say Negative Things About Your Current Employer

Regardless of your situation, bad-mouthing your company or superior isn't going to get you the job. It's important in the interview to remain positive and focused on what you bring to the table.

"Tell them the truth," says Burns, "Something changed at the company, or you've reached a point where you've gone as far as you can go and can't spend years waiting for a 'spot' to open. Make sure you never even hint at anything negative about your current employer. I've met people who understand this rule but let things slip during interviews," says Burns.

"You should avoid bashing at all costs even if your boss is the reason for your leaving. Interviewees should think of something positive to say or keep it very general and shift the conversation to a positive about your performance," says Lilly.

How to Handle References

Accidentally using your boss or supervisor as a reference likely won't sit well with them when they get blind-sided by an employer checking up on your references. References should be given upon request only, according to West, and even then with the caveat that your job search is confidential for the time being.

"You should have three solid references from different employers," Lily says. "One of them should be a supervisor or past manager. You should only use someone from your current place of employment if you trust them not to leak or they have left recently."


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