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How to Approach Your Job Search When You’re Already Employed

There are some advantages to job hunting whilst in work. You will know the best exhibition recruitment agencies to sign up with and you can take your search slowly as you don’t need an income.

If you’ve been networking and are looking to move to a competitor, you may be able to get some “insider information” to give you an edge in the interview. Plus, many employers like to recruit someone already working as it shows you can hold down a job and are worth employing.

There are also quite a few downsides – not least the fact that you might not want your boss to know that you’ve got itchy feet until you think the time is right.

Before you begin

Identify what it is about your current role that is making you want to look elsewhere. If you want more money, then it might be time to ask for a salary review. If you are looking to move up the career ladder, then a few discreet enquiries might reveal an internal position you could apply for. And if the issue is working hours or location then your line manager is the person to speak to about changing your hours or transferring to different offices.

Getting your CV ready to roll and writing some generic covering letters for the type of work you are looking for will help you to focus on why you’re looking for a different position and will make it faster to fill in application forms.

Planning is key

If you have a flexible working arrangement you may want to start “banking” hours so you can take time off for interviews later in your job search.

Signing up with an events recruitment agency is a great idea when you are searching for work but working. They will be able to alert you to positions you are a good candidate for thus limiting the amount of time you need to spend reading through adverts.

Network (discretely)

You’re already in the industry so now is the time to bring conversations round to topics where you might hear about vacancies before they are widely advertised. You might even get lucky and find yourself a job without too much effort.

If you’ve left another company on good terms you might find an opening for them. You’re a strong candidate as you won’t need so long to settle in and you’ll have the direct expertise of how their competition works.

But remember – if you don’t want your current employer to know you are job searching you need to be discrete about it. So, don’t post Facebook statuses or Tweet about your search and be careful how keen you seem. If you can network so can your boss and it’s not going to look good if they hear about your activities through the gossip mill.

Job Search

Choose your references carefully

This can be a tricky situation. Ideally, you want to use non-work referees, but some applications want a reference from your line manager. In this case, you’ll have to ask them to refrain from contacting your manager until you’ve got a job offer (which might be conditional on a good reference).

Handle interviews in your own time

Try to arrange interviews at the start or end of the day. If you explain why you can’t come at the initial time the recruiting company may be able to interview you at another.

Flexible working is your friend as you can make up the time later (or even better have some hours in the bank already). An omission is the best way to go about explaining your absence as lying outright about where you are going is sure to catch you out sooner or later. See some tips here.

Let your boss know at the right time

Eventually, you are going to have to give notice to your current employer. The best time to do this is once everything is agreed – right down to start date – with your new employer. It’s rare but sometimes job offers get withdrawn and you don’t want to find yourself with no new job and having alienated your existing boss.

If your new company insist on a managerial reference you will need to let your manager know that they will be contacting them. If your reasons for moving are sound and not realisable in your current position (for example you want to focus on event management of a type your company don’t handle or you’re moving to Manchester) then it’s perfectly possible to resign with no hard feelings.

Plan your notice period

Offering to make your notice period as trouble-free as you can sweeten the deal somewhat. If your new employer can wait, then ideally you want to be able to offer at least a day or so with your replacement so you can brief them on your role. If that’s not acceptable you can at least ensure that your files are in order and cryptic notes deciphered so your replacement can get to work without delay.