Finding a Job When You’re Currently Employed

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During an Effective Job Searching webcast, we received the following question – “How do you successfully conduct a job search when you are currently employed?”  You certainly want to take precautions and adjust your strategy when searching for a job while you’re in a full time role vs. being in a situation where your contract is ending, you get laid off, are otherwise unemployed, etc.


One good rule of thumb is to ask yourself before each action you take – “Could doing this step put me at risk in terms of my current employment?  Could it somehow notify my Manager, HR dept., etc. that I’m searching for other opportunities?”

You want to ensure your search and activity is shielded so that you don’t alert your current employer, so here are some points we’d encourage you to keep in mind during a job search when you’re still employed in a full-time role.

Develop a networking strategy

  •  The majority of job seekers find their next job through building and leveraging their professional networks!  One Lou Adler study of 3,000 professionals found that 85% received their last job offer through networking.  With this in mind, a large part of your strategy should involve developing a network and then sharing your career interests and target jobs with them. A network can consist of multiple types of individuals, such as past bosses, clients and co-workers you have a strong relationship with, Recruiters you respect who you’ve communicated with in the past, staffing firms you’ve heard good things from that you’d like to engage, community leaders and members, and more!  

Increase attendance at user groups, Meetups, association meetings, and other relevant community events

  • We stress this all the time, but attending more technical community meetings/events is beneficial for increasing knowledge, great branding for you and your resume, a great channel for networking, and helpful in determining companies you should prospect as well as key contacts that’d be helpful in your search (i.e. Recruiters, individuals at those companies, etc.).  At these events/meetings, ask the Organizer/Leader if you could have 1-2 minutes to quickly introduce yourself and do a professional plug-in about what you’re looking for (disclaimer: review the room and make sure you don’t recognize any faces from your current place of employment). Many groups even have a brief part of their meeting where job seekers can speak up on their status, experience and career interests and hiring Managers/Recruiters can share their openings, with a dedicated space after the meeting for connecting and discussing.

Partner with Recruiters you trust

  • Identifying and engaging with at least two reputable staffing firms with a good-sized client base, and recruiters within those firms who are credible, tenured, and who also support a large portfolio of clients with positions relevant to your skill set, is one of the most effective strategies you can utilize.  Invest time prospecting strong Recruiters in your area that are experienced and have good recommendations on LinkedIn, and reach out to them proactively.  If anyone in your network has recently changed jobs, message them and get Recruiter referrals.  Also, get referrals from the leaders of local user groups/technical communities, as they’ll likely have multiple suggestions!

Use job alerts

  • Instead of posting your resume, if you’d like to completely “play it safe,” it’d be ideal for you to set up alerts via multiple job boards/channels (i.e. Dice, Indeed, LinkedIn, etc.) and then pick and choose what you apply for.  If you do decide to use job boards, remember that you don’t have to post your resume to use them.  You can use the boards as a way to prospect companies that are hiring, identify recruiters who have jobs similar to your skill set and to also identify trends in skills/technologies companies are seeking!

Attend technology job fairs

  • Most cities, and many user groups/associations, host technology specific job fairs.  One of the benefits of signing up for user group distribution lists and/or Meetup groups is that you get notified of relevant job fairs that are hosted.  Do some research and determine if there are relevant job fairs coming up near you!

Be cautious with posting resume

  • If you do decide to post, remove any identifiable information, including full name and email.  You can also take it a step further by making your resume ‘Confidential.’  The best Recruiters we know will still contact confidential resumes, and you aren’t running the risk of having your employer identified when your resume is posted.  Instead of the company name, as an added precaution, just describe the company, such as ‘Mid-Sized Financial Services Firm.’

Leverage LinkedIn correctly, and adjust your notification settings

  • Remember that potential employers will be reviewing online channels, such as your LinkedIn profile.  Therefore, making enhancements to your profile is a best practice in of itself, to better brand yourself as a strong candidate.  Remember to turn off notifications so that your network isn’t notified when you’re adding skills, making changes to your summary, etc. It’s a good practice to continuously update your LinkedIn profile and any others you’re on (i.e. GitHub), so it’s not suspicious once you make a couple tweaks as you increase job searching activity.  Consider adding a reoccurring appointment/task reminder periodically to make small profile adjustments.
Next Steps

Based on our key pieces of advice above, here are some recommended actions if you’re looking for a job but are currently employed:

  1. Develop a networking strategy!  Write a list of all the individuals in your network that could provide prospective job leads and start doing outreach to those individuals.
  2. Increase participation at local technical community events/groups.  Scope out 2-3+ groups, attend 1+ networking event/user group meeting a month, and consult with Group Organizer on recommendations (i.e. Recruiters, companies hiring, resources, other advice, etc.).
  3. Identify 2+ staffing firms who support your skill set frequently, then identify a quality Recruiter at each of those firms, request an in-person meeting so you can build relationship/trust and communicate your career interests, and maintain open lines of communication with them!
  4. Sign up for job alerts via 2+ channels.  As you see jobs you want to apply for, use a resume optimization tool like JobScan to ensure your resume is more highly ranked via the ATS (applicant tracking system) or consult with the Recruiters you’re working with to determine if they have a relationship with the hiring company. 
  5. Research and attend a relevant job fair.
  6. When posting resume online, make it confidential or remove identifiable information to ensure current place of employment isn’t alerted and/or doesn’t take notice.
  7. Before you make additions and tweaks to your LinkedIn profile, ensure the notifications are turned off so it’s not alerting your network, which could be a cause for concern for your employer, especially if you’re not usually very active.
About the author
Erica Woods has nearly a decade in the IT staffing world, an MBA, and is a member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches.

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About the author
MSSQLTips author Cate Murray Cate Murray is responsible for managing the nationally-based talent acquisition strategies of the Apex Systems PMO and Business Analysis Practice and holds her PMP certification from PMI.

This author pledges the content of this article is based on professional experience and not AI generated.

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