Dear Sam: I have always heard the old adage, “it’s easier to get a job when you have a job” but how does one exactly find the time to conduct a job search when already working 50+ hours in addition to caring for a family—wife and three children—and home? I desperately want to get out of my current situation and find a new culture to be a part of, but I can’t quit and lose the income while searching for a new job. What is the best approach? — Jacob
Dear Jacob: You are so right! Performing a thoughtful job search is indeed a full-time job, so adding that to your already-full-time position and your responsibilities as a homeowner, parent, and husband is daunting to say the least. The good news is that there are absolutely strategies you can employ—no pun intended—to help you source a new opportunity while you are engaged in your current position.
1. Create a Plan
Perhaps the most important step, akin to creating a business plan for an entrepreneurial venture, is to create your job search plan complete with targeted positions, companies, and a clear vision of your value proposition. Of course, this should coincide with the development of a robust, targeted, and keyword-centric resume and cover letter. Create these documents, as mentioned, to be as targeted as possible so they yield traction in the job market.
Connect with your friends, peers, and family and let them know you are conducting a confidential search. Educate them on what you are looking for, provide them with a current copy of your resume, and create an army of brand ambassadors—for you! While you may not want to alert peers with your current employer of your plans, you can always reach out to peers you used to work with who have moved on to new employers. You never know who you may connect with and what invitations that could yield. I have heard of so many candidates doing this, connecting with a former co-worker or supervisor, and actually earning invitations to interview—and getting hired—for unlisted opportunities! Bottom line, networking is key.
3. Engage a Recruiter
In addition to leveraging your network and sourcing a recruiter to represent your candidacy in the local market, set up your LinkedIn recruiter profile to ensure your profile is shown to the 97%+ of recruiters searching for candidates on LinkedIn. While LinkedIn attempts to prevent showing a recruiter from your organization your profile, it is better to be safe than sorry. Hence, when setting up your recruiter profile, change your settings to “Not actively looking” just in case a recruiter from your company comes across your profile. This won’t hurt your chances with other recruiters—if they are interested they will reach out regardless!
4. Bolster your LinkedIn Profile
There is a misnomer that updating your LinkedIn profile tells an employer you are actively searching for a new position. In fact, most professionals should have a LinkedIn profile that optimizes the presentation of their brand whether or not they are actively searching. To tighten security, when updating your LinkedIn profile, you can turn off select privacy settings to ensure your network is not notified of the uptick of activity. Seeking recommendations to attach to your profile is a great thing to do at this time, ensuring others are “vouching” for your candidacy given you will likely not provide a reference from your current employer.
5. Build Bridges with Influencers
While free time is at a premium, try to engage in opportunities to network with influencers in your field while representing your current employer. This could come in the form of attending trade events, industry conferences, meet-up sessions, or even just social networking opportunities offered by most trade associations. While you are representing your employer, realize you are also representing your brand, building relationships, securing contacts, and engaging with others in your field who may be great connections down the road should you be interested in opportunities with their employers/organizations. View this Dear Sam Live video for additional tips on using social media to facilitate your search.
I hope these tips help you create the plan to make a “clean” exit from your current employer with minimal disruption for you, your family, and your finances. Good luck with your search!