Search for Job While Working?
April 1, 2007 8:38 PM   Subscribe

How do I look for a job while working?

I've decided that I should start looking for a new job. A series of events in my personal and professional life lead me to this decision (for the full story, look at my question history), but I suppose the most important is that my current job is in Milwaukee and I'd like my next job to be in Minneapolis.

My current job is the first "real" job I've had out of college, so the folks I work with right now will be the only people I can put down for business references.

I've discussed my goal (moving to Minneapolis) with my boss, who has said he'd like me to keep working for him until the end of our project. I agreed with that at the time, but our project just got canceled and restarted as a new one, so I can almost guarantee the timeline will be pushed out even farther than it already has (we won't even be close to done until Q3 2008). Needless to say, I would prefer to not wait that long.

Based on these circumstances, would it be bad to go looking for a job? When I have an interview, do I tell them I'm currently working somewhere else right now? Do I ask them not to call my current employer (I have some academic recommendations)?
posted by yellowbkpk to Human Relations (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Wait until you have about 3 or 4 weeks of vacation and sick time saved up, then quit. Then you use those 3-4 weeks that you are still getting paid by your old company to look for a new job.
posted by ChasFile at 8:56 PM on April 1, 2007

It's not bad to look for a new job. You need to look after yourself. Do you have any contacts in the new town? Try to use those to get some interviews. Try applying to positions and say that you'll be in town from, say, May 5-10 for interviews. Then book vacation for that time I'd try going this route before quitting your job.
posted by acoutu at 9:05 PM on April 1, 2007

You can look for your new job while working your current job; this is very common. Just tell your interviewer the truth and ask them not to call your current workplace. I wouldn't think any further explanation would be needed.

(Even without you specifically asking, they would be very presumptous to go calling your current employer without discussing it with you first.)
posted by Count Ziggurat at 9:35 PM on April 1, 2007

Wait until you have about 3 or 4 weeks of vacation and sick time saved up, then quit. Then you use those 3-4 weeks that you are still getting paid by your old company to look for a new job.

I very strongly recommend against this, unless you are independently wealthy or your family will support you. It's always easier to look while you already have a job. If you quit, you'll put yourself in for the wonderful experience of desperately looking for a new gig before the savings run out, and you might end up taking something worse than what you have now and really kicking yourself later. And you'll feel under pressure and perform worse during interviews.

It's a little complicated because you're looking for jobs in a different city, but I think it can be done without quitting first. You can at least see what's out there before you do anything rash.

Step one is to get over worrying about whether it's "right" or not. As they say in the mafia, "business never personal." This is your life and your livelihood, and there's no reason to feel guilty about doing what's best for you. You are an at-will employee, and the company wouldn't hesitate a second in putting you out on the street if it was in their best interest.

Step two is to start looking, and be discreet. My personal rule is to mention absolutely nothing to my current employer until I have signed and returned the offer letter to my new job. Could my current employer be cool about it? Possibly. Could they put my ass on the street the second I mention I'm looking? Also possible. I just don't take chances with my livelihood like that.. I might like people at work personally, but like I said, it's business not personal.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:37 PM on April 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

(Good luck with your search, btw!)
posted by Count Ziggurat at 9:38 PM on April 1, 2007

Wait until you have about 3 or 4 weeks of vacation and sick time saved up, then quit. Then you use those 3-4 weeks that you are still getting paid by your old company to look for a new job.

This first response you got is not only unnecessary, but very unintelligent.

Do not do this. Period. It's irresponsible and unless you get lucky you could be in deep doodoo. Who knows how long it'll take you to find another job, and who knows once you do find that new job how soon they'll want you to start. This is just really bad advice.

Some better advice:

Depending on how your relationship is with your manager, you have 2 main options (and many others, surely)...

1) Good relationship: Be honest with your manager and indicate that you have interest or need to move to Minneapolis. This is the "right" course of action, but is not the easiest because of a litany of issues (see: lame duck syndrome, etc). .. However, if you can pull this off, it will be the best option for when your prospective new employer calls as a reference. You should have vacation time, and you'll need to use that for your interviews.

2) If you need to do it all hush-hush, then don't get caught browsing monster at work. Do your browsing at home or on breaks, and if at all possible, set your sights on a few specific jobs and see if you can set up interviews within a specific time period. Minneapolis isn't exactly close to Milwaukee, so if you could set it up such that you take 3 days off of work (say a Wed/Thu/Fri) and stay in Minneapolis for a few days, then it's just "vacation" to work. It's when you're taking random days here and there that it looks odd.

If you can't set up consecutive interviews like that (and it's understandably hard to do so), you're going to simply need to take random days off. Do not say you're sick every time. Be sick once. Have a routine appointment next time (doctor? cable guy?). Have a wedding another time.

As far as your potential employers: People look for jobs while they have a current one ALL the time. Be honest with them that you're still working elsewhere, and be honest with them as to why you're looking for new employment.
posted by twiggy at 9:47 PM on April 1, 2007 [2 favorites]

While I agree with drjimmy11 that it is not wrong in any way to hunt for a job while working and NOT tell your employer, and it is of course a gamble to tell your current boss, I think you should consider it (especially given the past relationship you describe and the very reasonable circumstances motivating your desire to move). The benefits - keeping an amenable relationship with your employer throughout the transition, being able to give your employer as a reference, and not having to be covert (a long distance job hunt can be logistically difficult even without having to be evasive about interview trips and long work-hours telephone calls). Finally, you've stated there might be positions within your current employer's Minneapolis branch, so keeping an inside track there could be desirable.

Personally I would establish a schedule for moving, and then schedule the job transition around that, whether you tell your current employer about it or not. Figure out what timing makes sense for you and your fiancé leaving your current apartments and moving in together and set a date. Then decide whether to tell your current employer or not. You may run into an employment gap, sure, but you know, employment gaps are part of life. Of course, this advice is coming from a person who has never ever lined up a new job before quitting the old one.
posted by nanojath at 9:46 PM on April 1, 2007

Since you've already discussed this with your boss, he knows you're looking for a job. Just make sure you get all your work done and are beyond reproach in your current position while you look.

Don't be too much of a doormat with your current boss, either. Wanting to be a good guy and dependable and not leave them in the lurch are all wonderful things and can keep the relationship happy. However, your boss's bottom line is still in favor of you not inconveniencing him by leaving at all. If you give him the opportunity to guilt you into staying, he will probably take you up on it. Think "gentle yet firm."
posted by desuetude at 7:42 AM on April 2, 2007

Is it right?
Put it this way - if the company wanted to move to Minneapolis, they wouldn't ask how it fit into your plans.

With respect to telling your boss that you were looking, well, I wouldn't. We're all adults here, and if you manage to get a good job offer in Minneapolis a reasonable boss will understand your motives for leaving (especially given the project slip). Not sure about the logistics of a long-distance job-hunt, but that's what holidays are for:)

Good luck!
posted by Jakey at 9:58 AM on April 2, 2007

Also, it seems that you've already informed your manager that you're going to quit on him (by telling him that you want to move to another city). Are you sure he'll stand by you as an appropriate reference?

People look for new jobs while working old jobs all the time. Spend an evening scanning the papers and work websites, call in sick the next day, and hit the phones hard.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:33 AM on April 2, 2007

I am based in the UK and my experience is based on how it works here but you may find some of it useful:

All but my first job since graduation came through an agency - and I was always in employment whilst looking for a new job. I have moved to a different city twice for work reasons.

My advice would be to research local employment agencies and register with a good agency. They will be able to advise you on salary levels, on the local job market in general.

Most importantly they do the looking for you and set up interviews etc. The CV's they send out to their clients have details of your current role and job title on them but not your employer's name.

Normally they will not release your current employer's details to the new employer until they have made you a conditional offer which you have accepted. In fact most of the time the new employer has requested these details from me directly as part of the written job offer.
posted by koahiatamadl at 12:03 PM on April 2, 2007

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