Of all the obstacles jobseekers could be dealing with, having to look for work while keeping busy with a full-time job is one of the better problems to have. Being gainfully employed automatically takes a lot of the pressure off and frees you from the desperation that makes many unemployed people take jobs they don’t want.
But there is still a unique set of problems that comes with searching while employed. “It’s challenging to look for a job when you’re working full time,” said Tammy Gooler Loeb, a career and executive coach in the Boston area. “People who are working full-time have to come up with a really clear plan and understand that it might take them longer because they already have a full-time job.”
For one, there’s much less free time. Since your job search should be its own full-time job, there simply don’t seem to be enough hours in the day to search all the job boards and hit the networking circuits. Many times, people with full-time jobs will use their work hours to research other companies and make connections that have nothing to do with that responsibility. Some will even use their employer’s equipment and resources to assist then and even go on formal interviews while on the clock.
These practices go too far and can be borderline criminal, Loeb said. “It’s not really OK to use work time for your job search,” she said. “If you’re getting paid to be there, you have an obligation to do what you’re paid for.” The consequences of using your employer’s time to try to leave your present job can range from getting fired to being brought up on fraud charges. At the very least, Loeb said, it’ll make things awkward for you at work — especially if you’re caught pitching a competitor.
“If your employer even has an inkling that you’re looking for other work, that could have repercussions in the workplace,” she said. “Your employer could feel you’re less loyal … they could marginalize you. People are funny about those kinds of comings and goings.”
But that doesn’t mean you have to put your job search entirely on hold. As an engaged member of the workforce, you’re likely to have access to lot more information in your field that could benefit you than if you were unemployed. “Keep your eyes and ears open for things and make mental notes,” Loeb said. “You may have the opportunity to get more information about what’s going on that may feed your job search.” She added that the heavy lifting can be done on your time off — either after work hours, on weekends or during personal and vacation days if need be.
Loeb said working jobseekers can also utilize their lunch breaks as a free period to network or make follow up calls on resumes. “There are a lot of creative ways to access people in your network… possibly grab a drink or cup of coffee after work,” she said. The trick, she said, is not to cross that line where you’re betraying your employer.