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How to look for a new job–when you already have a job

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It’s a common problem, but one many infrequently discuss: How do you search for a job when you already have one?

I know for me, it was a big issue. I was a job hopper before job hopping was en vogue (millennials: you can thank me later ;). And with every job hop came the same challenge–looking while effectively doing my current job.

Now, I didn’t have the social web to worry about when I was looking (1996-2006, roughly). In most of those cases, I was able to keep my search fairly (if not completely) private.

Hopping

But, with social media’s evolution, there are new challenges to this dilemma.

So I thought we’d spend some time today talking about those challenges and how to get around them a bit:

Challenge: Updating your LinkedIn profile without your boss watching

Solution: Constantly update your LinkedIn profile

Might seem obvious, but judging on behavior I saw with one former employer, clearly it is not. For many, networking and LinkedIn is something they do only when they need something (i.e., “a job”). For the savvy, networking and LinkedIn are an ongoing experience. Always be updating your profile. Approach current and former colleagues for recommendations. Fine-tune the “resume” piece of your profile. Join new groups. Make new connections. You get the idea. I’d suggest putting 1-2 hours into this a month–you’ll reap the benefits in a big way when it comes time to start making “asks.”

 

Challenge: Networking while trying to do a full-time job

Solution: Make lunch breaks your new BFF

Classic challenge. I know I need to network to find a new job, but I simply don’t have the time with my stressful, time-consuming job. Well, you eat, right? Why not use that “lunch hour” to network, as time permits. You won’t be able to do it every day, but even if you have lunch with a new contact (or former colleague) 1-2 times a week, it’ll pay off. You simply HAVE to get out and network in order to get ahead in today’s connected world. Ignore this advice at your own peril.

 

Challenge: How do I network? I don’t even know where to start…

Solution: Target. Prepare. Perform. Repeat.

I hear this one all the time. People know networking is important, but they have no idea how to go about it. Or, it still feels “dirty” to them. My thought: it’s only dirty if you treat it that way. For me, networking has always been more about meeting and getting to know people (and then helping them) than it has about “networking.” In fact, I rarely refer to it that way. Those who do–yeah, then it’s dirty. See the difference? As far as getting started, use the “target, prepare, perform” approach. Target the people you want to meet–those who will help you get the job you want. Could be hiring managers. Could be connectors. Whatever the case, use your friends (your real social network) and LinkedIn to ID these people. Then, research the hell out of them. Find out where they worked. Where they went to school. What their dog’s name is. What their dog’s dog baby’s names are. I mean, really dig in. Then, set up the meeting and perform (here’s my two cents on how to organize that coffee meetup–that’s a whole separate post). Repeat this process 1-2 times a week for a few months and you’ll be amazed at the results.

 

Challenge: Where do I find the time to do all this extra work? I mean, I already have a full-time job!

Solution: Accept the reality: You now you have TWO full-time jobs.

This one is simple expectation management. If you’re looking for a job while working an existing full-time job, you now have two full-time jobs. There’s no getting around it. No matter how you slice it. And, the most hungry wins. So, how bad do you want that new job? Badly enough to work 2-3 hours each night after you work all day, eat, workout and go home? That’s what you’re competing against, so if you want it badly, know that fact. I just can’t underscore this mantra enough: You’re going to have to work hard to find that new job. No one’s going to hand you anything. It’s going to require long hours. It’s going to require extra effort. It’s going to require late nights. Quit whining about and get to work!

Note: Photo courtesy of Rooner Toy Photography.

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How to look for a new job–when you already have a job

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