Searching for a new job before leaving your old one can offer many advantages. For one, your network is wider and more engaged if you’re actively working in your field. In addition, potential employers will look more favorably on you, since having a job is a sign that you are a desirable employee and that someone values your work. And perhaps most importantly, looking for work while you’re still employed takes the pressure off the search, giving you more confidence and allowing you to wait for the right opportunity and negotiate with more leverage when it does come along.
However, job hunting while employed poses some risks. If your current boss or coworkers discover your search, they may react negatively. At worst, you risk being fired. The problems compound if you end up with a job lead at a competitor of your current employer, as you may run into legal issues or conflicts of interest at work. And even if your current boss is sympathetic to your reasons for wanting to move on, you may find your opportunities and responsibilities curtailed as your supervisors shift focus to employees they know will be around for the long term.
In light of this, you should take steps to keep your employer from finding out about your job search. Make sure job interviews take place either before or after work, and wear separate work and interview outfits if you can. You may also want to consider taking one day off for multiple interviews, if you can spare it. Avoid talking about your job search around the office or on social media, and never use office computers for job searching, as some companies monitor their employees’ Internet activity.
Finally, make sure you continue to display a positive and enthusiastic attitude at your current job. It may be tempting to let your work slide as you pursue new and more exciting opportunities, but remember that you want to leave on a good note; don’t let a few weeks of subpar performance color the impression you leave on others.