How to find a new job while still employed

Explore our tips on finding a new job while keeping your current employment secure, making a positive exit impression, and moving forward with the right attitude.
Written by Matthew Sweeney, Contributing Writer
smiling woman working on a laptop. In the background, a man sits on a couch, also working.
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Looking for work is stressful — it can even feel like a full-time job. And balancing a job search with your current job's responsibilities can be even more challenging. 

But if you navigate your search with discretion, confidence, and good judgment, finding a new job while currently employed can be a less stressful process by far than while unemployed.

Read on for our guide to finding a new job while currently employed and preparing properly for the next opportunity.

1. Get clarity on what you're looking for in a new job.

The first step is to define what it is that you want your next job to be like. You can start by listing aspects of your dream job, such as:

  • Industry
  • Hours
  • Company culture
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Deeper purpose to the work

Try organizing your thoughts in a list or diary entry to better understand your own needs.

Once you know what you want, you can zero in on opportunities that seem to fit your needs as a professional and human being.

2. Be discreet about looking for a new job.

You may feel tempted to hint to your coworkers about your dissatisfaction with the current situation or excitement at a promising lead. Don't do it. If word gets around your workplace that you are looking for a new job, this could create a tense situation or even get you fired.

This means you should also not post to your social media accounts or LinkedIn about your job search. Being discreet will allow you to find the right replacement job without rushing.

3. Update your resume and LinkedIn.

Take a moment to update your resume and LinkedIn, if you have not already. You'll want to put your best face forward with this new opportunity, so make sure your professional image is looking its best for new employers.

Be careful when updating your LinkedIn to not alert your coworkers and boss in the process. 

Considerations when updating your LinkedIn include:

  • Turning public notifications off for updates to your LinkedIn profile
  • Leaving out any mention of looking for new work
  • Only listing skills that match your current position

4. Use your personal devices to job search.

Do not use company computers to look up job opportunities. 

For one, it is unprofessional to do this on your current company's time. More importantly, you could raise eyebrows in your workplace if someone sees a search engine autocomplete option relating to your job search or a worker from IT mentions unusual activity on company computers.

Only use personal devices to visit job search sites and wait until you are home to look for work. This way you will maintain professionalism and avoid your company's scrutiny.

5. Prioritize networking, rather than just applying on job boards.

Networking gives you a variety of advantages in your job search, including:

  • Allowing you to leverage your current connections
  • Minimizing the time you spend chasing false leads
  • Reducing unnecessary/problematic visibility as a job seeker in the online realm

Trawling job boards can be tricky because it takes time and your boss might be watching. Networking allows you to leverage connections into a new job through meaningful interactions.

Check out our page on networking tips for help developing this vital soft skill.

6. Don't use any current coworkers as references.

If at all possible, avoid listing current coworkers as references on your resume. 

If you list someone as a reference and your prospective employer calls them, it will blow your cover. The coworker may alert your workplace that you're looking to leave before the opportunity is a done deal.

Keep in mind that you can always offer to provide references by request. You can put off providing references until a possible employer indicates that they need them.

The situation is different if you're working on a limited contract or know your employment is coming to an end soon. Even then, list only coworkers you trust and ask them before listing them.

7. Set up interviews during non-work hours.

Over the course of your job search, you'll need to schedule interviews. Repeatedly leaving work for interviews will likely rouse suspicion, so if possible schedule interviews during non-work hours.

Sometimes your interviewer is only available during work hours. In these situations, you can come up with an excuse as an emergency tactic and use PTO. But doing so frequently can cause problems.

This even applies to phone interviews. Needing to "take a break" mid-workday for a phone interview is a stressful, avoidable situation. 

Set boundaries for yourself by telling possible employers which times work and which don't.

SEE: Your ultimate guide to preparing for a tech job interview

8. Keep giving your current job your best effort.

Avoid the temptation to slack at your current job. You don't want to get fired before you have a new job lined up. It's not a good idea to ruin a professional relationship that could help you down the line.

Don't try to spite your current employer or behave immaturely. Keep doing your best work despite whatever difficulties you face. Consider it practice for your next job. 

9. Be patient and take care of yourself while job hunting.

Remember to practice self-compassion during the process of finding a new job. There will be false leads that end with dead ends. The process could end up taking longer than you thought. 

Remind yourself that you're better off than if you were finding a new job while unemployed. Though the situation isn't ideal, at least you aren't facing the added financial pressures of unemployment.

Don't rush and don't be hard on yourself. Remind yourself that with persistence you'll find a good fit in time.

10. Once you've accepted a job offer, send a resignation letter to your current employer.

Now that you're fully on board to start working at a better job, your next step is to send a resignation letter to your current employer. 

Send your letter of resignation at least two weeks before your intended final day. It should be concise and polite. Alert your current employer to your plans, wish them well, and offer to help with the transition.

A good resignation letter is not only a courtesy but will allow you to leave your current employer without burning any bridges.

11. Start your new job with confidence.

Now that you are about to embark on your new job, start off with the right attitude. While it's true that your last working experience was not great, that does not mean that this one can't be different! 

Remember that you have the tools at your disposal to get a different outcome from this new opportunity. Use the lessons you learned at your last job and face your new one with self-confidence.

A positive, proactive attitude can help you overcome new job anxiety and set the right tone for the road that lies ahead.

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