Job Hunting while Working

Looking for a new job can be stressful at the best of times, especially when you’re currently employed and trying to keep your job-hunting activity on the downlow.

Our latest top tips are here to help you navigate the job-hunting process while still working:

Making yourself available

Before applying for something new, consider your own availability to take part in a recruitment process. There may be more than one interview required and depending on the role type there could be practical assessments to do, presentations to give or informal coffee meetings to have. Getting a new job can be a very time-consuming process, so you need to be in the right headspace and have the time (and energy) to devote to all the steps required. If your current workload means it’s hard to focus on anything else, you may not be in the right headspace for putting yourself out there for other opportunities right now.

If you’re lucky enough to be shortlisted for a job, it’s a good idea to get a sense of what the process is going to look like and what to expect from here. That way you can start managing your own availability and how you want to play it in terms of potentially needing to take time out from your current role.

If you’ve applied for a new job, expect to receive phone calls, emails and interviews relating to your application during the workday. It may not be ideal taking time off from your current job to interview for a new one, but that’s often the reality of job interviews. Asking to be interviewed outside of normal work hours is more often than not, asking the person(s) interviewing you to work outside of their normal business hours too. Sure, it might make things easier for you as the interviewee, but for the interviewers it could mean rearranging childcare arrangements and other commitments.

While recruiters and hiring managers try to be as flexible as possible with things like interview times, you’ll also need to have some degree of flexibility with your own availability as well. Front-foot things if you’re concerned about the difficulty of being available during business hours, but also be realistic about what might be feasible for all parties involved.

Many of us work in open plan offices, or places where it can be hard to have a private conversation. Don’t be afraid to let an incoming call go to your voicemail and call back when you’re available to speak, that way you can give the call your proper attention without worrying about who may be listening. Always try to call back on the same day if possible.

Confirm your current notice period

If you can’t remember what your notice period is in your current role, check your employment contract as that’s an important thing to keep in mind when applying for new jobs. While most employers anticipate candidates will have a four week notice period, they may not always be able to wait that long depending on the needs of the vacancy. If your notice period happens to be longer than four weeks, as is often the case with senior roles, that’s an important detail to raise during the recruitment process.

Use your personal contact details

It’s very common for people who’re currently employed to send in job applications from their work email, even though their CV will list their personal email address. If your job hunt is under wraps from your current employer, it’s important to know that many application tracking systems are going to store the email address you sent your application from and may default to that as your primary point of contact moving forward. Having recruitment related emails coming to your work address can let the cat out of the bag if someone else from your organisation happens to see them. If you don’t want your job hunt to be common knowledge, make sure you’re only using your personal contact details when applying.

Should I tell my current employer I’m looking?

While honesty is always the best policy, there can be many reasons for not wanting to tell your current employer that you’re looking elsewhere. For many it’s about not wanting to strain their existing relationships unless they know for sure they have a new job to go to. While there is absolutely no obligation on your part to tell your current employer that you’re looking for other opportunities, it does mean you might to have to do a bit of sneaking around in order to attend interviews and progress through the recruitment process.

If all goes to plan and you’re successful with your application, you’re going to have to let your employer know eventually. The likelihood of having to tell your manager the situation before the recruitment process is complete or a formal job offer made is high, as many employers now want a reference from your current workplace, so be prepared to have that conversation with them sooner rather than later.

Word of advice: when it does come time to make your job search public at work, your manager should be the first person to know. Also, showing up to work in a full suit or professional interview attire when that’s not your norm is going to be a dead giveaway!

Put it this way, it’s likely to be a whole lot easier if your current employer does know you’re on the lookout because you can be honest about your reasons for needing to take time off and you won’t feel like you’re sneaking around. It will all come down to individual circumstances of course, but if you’re committed to finding a new opportunity, keeping your manager in the loop can make the whole process more enjoyable.

Ensure confidentiality

If you do want to keep your job hunt quiet for now, make sure any recruiter or hiring manager you’re working with knows that your current employer is not aware (if that’s the case). This helps to avoid any awkward conversations or inadvertent mix ups. New Zealand is a small country and networks within our job sectors are tight. While any good recruiter or hiring manager will treat your application confidentially anyway, avoid any ambiguity by making it clear that you’re keeping things under wraps for now.

Remember that social media is a public platform too – if you’re trying to keep your job hunt a secret from your current employer, it’s probably best to keep anything to do with that off the likes of Facebook and Twitter. You never know who might see it and who they might be connected to!

Don’t neglect your current role:

Job hunting can be emotionally and mentally draining at times, but it’s really important that you don’t let that impact your effectiveness in your current job. Though you may be well and truly ready to leave, you’re still being paid to perform. It’s obvious when someone starts to lose interest in their work, which can reflect badly if you’re not careful. If you’re using someone from your current role as a referee, the last thing you want them to say is that you lack motivation or have not been performing recently!

If you’ve made it through a recruitment process and come out the other end with a job offer – congrats! If you need tips on how to hand in your resignation now – take a look here.

Only just getting started with your job search? Check out our top tips for finding a job here.

Good luck,
Kirsty and Nikki

Recruiting in a Candidate Short Market
Following up a Job Application


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  1. Great info thanks – super helpful reminders!

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