Employers have no idea how difficult, time-consuming, and stressful the job search truly is – especially for those of us who are looking for a job while already employed full time. It’s exhausting, and sometimes feels impossible to commit yourself to a thorough search when 9 hours of your day are already tied up.
When people say looking for a job is a full-time job in and of itself, they aren’t lying. So if you really, really want to find a new job, but can’t afford to leave your current job — a situation I recently found myself in — here are a few tips to help you survive the tedious process.
Don’t tell your boss you’re looking for a new job.
Regardless of how close you are with your boss, you want to stay mum about your job search. There’s absolutely no telling how things will pan out — you could start looking for a job, but change your mind; the circumstances of your current job could alter; or you could be in for a very long hunt. No matter what, telling your boss you’re looking for employment elsewhere can get messy. It can lead to hurt feelings, a fractured professional relationship, or worse, the company firing you. And don’t tell your co-workers you’re looking, either. Even if you’re close, they can spill the beans and make your work environment much more hostile than it needs to be.
Continue – as best as possible – to put your best foot forward at your current position.
Once you’ve made the decision to leave your job, it can be difficult to keep going as normal. But until you’ve secured a new position, it’s best to act as if nothing is different. Even if you really hate your current company, you don’t want to burn any bridges
Be thoroughly prepared for what your job search will require.
Looking for a job isn’t as simple as sending out a resume and getting a call back that you’ve gotten the position. (God, if only!) It’s time-consuming, and there are so many steps to complete. You’ve got to perfect your resume and cover letters (and yes, I said cover letters, as in they should be personalized to the place where you’re applying); take a phone call or two or three from your prospective employers; prepare for the interview; complete the interview; send out any necessary thank you notes and follow-up emails; and complete any second or third interviews.
What I’m getting at: the job search is kind of insane. So make sure you are prepared to take on all of this, as these things will become your new hobbies. I recommend:
- Perfecting your resume and printing out several copies on nice card stock before applying to any jobs. You should also do this with a sample portfolio, if it applies to your field. Then tuck these away in your portfolio and forget about them. If an unexpected interview comes up, you’ll be ready.
- Investing in some thank you cards and stamps before going on your interview. You should be handwriting your thank you cards immediately after you meet with your prospective employers, and having these items on hand will help with that.
- Finding a quiet, private place to take phone calls while at work. Most offices are going to be calling you back during your work day. It sucks, but that’s the reality. If you need to run out to your car to take a phone call, do so.
- Accepting phone interviews when possible. Not all companies offer this, but if they do, take them up on it. It’s much easier to duck out for a long lunch to do a phone interview than taking a whole day off to meet in person.
- Saving your paid time off for your job interviews. Unfortunately, most (if not all) of the companies you apply for will require you to meet them in person. During the work day. At a likely inconvenient time. You’ll need to take that time off, so make sure you actually have the ability to do so.
Have a “self-care” plan for when the job search and your current job get to be too much.
For me, that was sometimes as simple as a text to my fiancee to say, “I need a drink.” I just wanted to relax and forget about how hard everything felt. In truth, searching for a job when you’re genuinely unhappy where you currently are can be exhausting. I grappled with feelings of self-doubt, despair… and then there was dealing with the inevitable rejection from places I’d applied to. I’d wonder, why wasn’t I good enough? Why haven’t I heard back? Why don’t they like me? It’s tiring, so make sure you take care of yourself when the job search gets overwhelming.
Once you get a new job, don’t put in your two-week’s notice without a written offer.
You never want to celebrate too early! Sometimes you’ll get an employer saying you have the job, but without a written offer, that doesn’t mean much. There are a lot of technical things that need to be completed before you get your written offer (like passing a background test, for example) and that takes time. So before you tell your boss you’re leaving, make sure you have a written offer letter.
But do put in your two-week’s notice as soon as possible.
As soon as you’ve got that offer letter, write your own resignation letter (you can find samples here) and request a private sit-down with your boss. Then tell him or her that you’ve been offered another position, and you’ve accepted. Keep it as professional as you can, with a firm end-date in mind, as well as a plan for how your next two weeks will go (and probably don’t cry, like I did).
Do your job well during your last two weeks.
You may be saying goodbye, but don’t check out just yet. You want to leave a positive, lasting impression on your boss and your co-workers, regardless of how you feel about them. So as much as you may want to say things like, “Ha! I won’t miss this when I’m gone!” or “see ya, suckas, I’m outta here,” don’t. Do your job well, complete your necessary tasks, and tie up any loose ends. If you really want to go above and beyond, help prepare your team for your absence by making training guides and/or gathering all of the pertinent documents for the person who takes over your role next.
How have you stayed sane during the job hunt?