If you're seeking new career opportunities but can't afford to quit your current job, you're not alone. This scenario, which is pretty common in the work world, can be a bit tricky to navigate, because you usually need to keep your job search as discreet as possible. Here are a few tips for interviewing while you're still employed.
1. Use a Vacation or Sick Day
If you have vacation time or sick days available, use them during your job search. Tell your boss you'd like to take a three-day vacation in a few weeks. Once the vacation days are approved, begin an aggressive job search, and do everything in your power to schedule your interviews on those vacation days. If a prospective employer wants to conduct a job interview right away, your only option might be to call in sick. Try not to call in too often, as this can tip off your current employer.
2. Piggy-Back Off of Another Commitment
Whenever possible, schedule your interview on days when you already have a commitment your current boss knows about. For example, if you're scheduled to work at an office across town on a particular morning, schedule your job interview that day, and attend the interview before heading back to your main job site. If you telecommute a few days per month, schedule job interviews on those days to make things appear as normal as possible.
3. Keep Quiet
Information spreads quickly in the workplace, so it's best to keep quiet about your job search to prevent any negative consequences. If someone asks why you're leaving work early or inquiries about your sick leave, be vague with your answer, and change the subject as quickly as possible. It's also a good idea to keep information about your job search off of social media, since you never know who's searching through your profile. Never post information that indicates you're looking for a new job or attending interviews, and stay off social media completely on the days you call in sick.
4. Don't Alter Your Normal Habits
Even though you're planning to move on, don't check out mentally when performing tasks for your current employer. Work just as hard as you normally would, and continue to show respect to your boss and co-workers. Keep your attire the same as well, especially on interview days. Showing up to a casual office in a business suit and then leaving work early is likely to raise a few eyebrows. Keep your interview clothes in the car, and find somewhere to change quickly before the meeting.
5. Schedule Interviews on Your Own Time
Throughout your job search, do your best to schedule interviews on your own time. This is the best way to keep the word from getting out. Find out if prospective employers are willing to meet with you before or after normal business hours, and be open to interviewing in nontraditional interview spaces, such as a coffee shop or public library.
It's important to tread carefully if you're conducting a job search while still employed. Following these tips might require some careful planning and strategizing, but the opportunity to take your career to the next level makes the effort well worth it.
Photo courtesy of Wayne McFall at Flickr.com