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The Best Time to Look For a Job Is When You Already Have One

The Best Time to Look For a Job Is When You Already Have One


By Leia O’Connell, MSW
Contributor and Career Coach, APUS

I recently spoke with an individual who has been unhappy at work for some time. I asked, “Are you starting the job hunt? Exploring new opportunities? Keeping your resume up to date?” The answers were no, no and no.

Why was that happening? After some discussion, it came down to this situation. This person felt comfortable with day-to-day tasks, knew how to do the job and was willing to look past personal frustrations and parts of the job that were not enjoyable.

At the end of the day, that person needed security. She felt secure (though unhappy) with the responsibilities of the role and did not see any risk of being laid off. This person has been with her current company for almost 20 years and was willing to forego happiness eight hours a day for security.

That got me thinking, “Is job security worth the sacrifice of happiness?” For me, no, it isn’t.

Take a minute and consider this question: Do you like your job? If the answer is anything other than a passionate “YES!”, then start thinking about a job search.

Start Your Job Search While You Have a Job

The best time to start looking for a job is when you already have one. You can feel a sense of security in your job search, knowing that even if it takes time, you can remain in your current role.

Don’t wait for a crisis to happen before you start looking for employment. Applying for jobs while you have a job gives you some negotiating power. You don’t have to say yes if the offer isn’t right. It’s desperation that often leads us to poor decisions.

Explore Career Options in Different Industries

I suggest you start with self-reflection. If you could work in any industry, what would it be?

Remember that industries have diverse employment positions. Are you looking to enter the sports industry, but you work in HR? Remember that the New York Yankees have an HR department, too.

There may be a fit for you in your industry of choice; you just have to start looking. Just because you have a dream doesn’t mean it can’t come true.

Build Your Job Qualifications over Time

As you start to evaluate roles of interest, take time to carefully examine the qualifications that employers seek for those roles. If you don’t have the qualifications, how can you start building them in your current role? Are there opportunities to collaborate with other departments and expand your skill set? Is going back to school or pursuing a certification a step you need to consider? Start setting your target now and write down all the opportunities you have to get there.

Finding a new job isn’t easy. But don’t allow yourself to get stuck in a role you don’t enjoy simply for security.

Take some time to consider that many people are happy during the eight hours a day they’re working. You could be happy, too!