People look for new jobs for a number of reasons, and oftentimes, they do so while they're still employed. It's easy to get excited at the prospect of a new position, but you should be smart about how you approach your job search — remember, you still have a responsibility to your current employer.
If you're trying to land a new job while you still have one, here are six tips to help you balance your efforts and avoid trouble with your boss.
Don't search on company time
The responsibilities of your current job come first, so it's important for you to dedicate time outside of work hours to search for a new position.
"To put yourself in the right frame of mind, it may be beneficial to block out a time that will be used exclusively to peruse job postings, research companies and submit your resume," said Gabe Bristol, CEO of Intelicare Direct. "This will keep you free of distractions and focused on applying for jobs. I recommend a minimum block of 2 hours; this can be done before work, after work or on your lunch hour."
Keep it to yourself
Your job search is a personal decision. Even if you trust your colleagues, you can't control what they share with others. It's best to stay mum about your plans so it doesn't get around to the wrong people.
"To look [for a new job] while currently working requires wisdom — the wisdom to know who to tell, who to lean on and who not to tell," said Maria Sirois, a clinical psychologist at the Kripalu Center."The best approach is often to remain private about your goals and actions at your current workplace until [it is] clear that you will be supported."
Play it safe online
Be careful when visiting job boards or using social media to conduct your search. A single status update could be enough to alert your employer. You can further minimize the risk of being caught by ensuring your privacy settings are tight and using services that mask your identity when posting your resume online.
Most hiring managers understand that you will need to make arrangements to communicate or meet outside of office hours. Schedule interviews for before or after work, or during your lunch break if time allows.
"If you say to a potential [employer], 'I would prefer to interview before or after my workday, or possibly during my lunch break, because I'm busy [at work] and [my team] relies on me during the day,' you are indirectly stating that you not only have integrity but are a highly valued employee," Bristol said.
Take stock of your talents
Sirois suggested taking time to consider your best skills and qualities, both in your current and past roles.
"Record what strengths you use and talents you demonstrate," she said. "Notice if you are at your best in teams or on your own, with ideas or plans or both."
As you reflect on your optimal self, you will not only better understand the kind of environment that makes sense for you, but you also will have learned how to articulate your best qualities to potential employers, Sirois said.
Continue to work hard
Bristol suggested you put forth your best work and retain strong relationships within your current office, because you may need to use your current boss or co-workers as references for future jobs. However, loyalty to your current employer shouldn't preclude you from looking for other opportunities if you are not satisfied with your current role or company, he noted.
"It is important to remember that you are not doing anything wrong when looking for a job," Bristol said. "It is, in fact, your personal obligation to look for better opportunities if you are truly not emotionally, intellectually or financially fulfilled."