Okay, I admit it. I shopped online at work. It was recently my niece's 5th birthday. I had been traveling for work, and didn't have time to go shopping. I did wait until I was eating lunch at my desk to find her gift, but it made me miss the days when I was out of work and had lots of time to do things like buy a birthday present. Everyone says finding a job is a full-time job, so how do you juggle your job search while you are currently working?
Is it okay to shop for a new job at work? I think so, but do so with caution.
Here are my tips for successfully navigating your job search while on the job:
1. Never stop giving 110% at work. You should never stop giving your all to your current employer. Be the best employee you can be while at the office, be present and give focused attention to your job so you can continue to be a star. Remember, you want to have accomplishments for your résumé and successes to talk about during your interviews. Don't check out before you land your new job.
2. E-mail cautiously. Don't use your company e-mail. Many organizations have policies about utilizing company e-mail, phones, etc. for personal purposes. Use your Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo account to send correspondences to potential employers.
3. Be discreet. That means not wearing an interview suit to a business casual office. How do you handle the suit situations? I have had occasions where I stopped by the gym before/after interviews and left my suit in the locker. I was able to change in/out of more appropriate clothes and didn't worry if I would get caught in a suit when everyone at work wore jeans. You can always throw a jacket, change of shoes, etc. in a duffel bag and change on your way to the interview.
4. Network. Employers like when their employees are active in industry and local organizations. Get involved in professional associations and meet new people in your industry. No employer will get mad that you are going to an association event, and the more you network, the more likely you will land an interview at one of your target companies through one of your connections.
5. Print personal business cards. You can go to your local Kinkos or shop online at VistaPrint to get custom business cards with your personal cell phone and e-mail address. It's a lot better than scribbling your number on a cocktail napkin. Be sure to add some context (job title, key skills) to who you are on the card. Remember, it's a reflection of your personal brand.
6. Plan ahead. Are you hoping your boss doesn't notice you had three dentist cleaning appointments this month? Ideally, you should try to plan a few interviews in the same day and take the day off. That way you don't have to rush out the door at 4 p.m. to make a 4:30 interview. I always go to hopstop.com or Google maps to see exactly where I need to be. I plan my time accordingly and then give myself 20 extra minutes. If necessary, I will splurge for a cab if I am under pressure for time. It's important to know where you are going and not arrive to your interview stressed from your commute.
7. Use discretion. Just because you are looking for a new job, does not mean your entire company needs to know about it. Also, be mindful of your phone conversations. If a recruiter calls you at the office, find a quiet room to take the call. You should also put some thought into who will keep your confidence, especially if you are utilizing someone as a reference. Many times, a peer is easier to use as a reference for a current employer. Make sure your reference can speak to your work accomplishments, on the job performance and work ethic.
No matter if you are actively looking for a new job or just window shopping, follow some of these tips and you will navigate your job search with success.