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09/27/09
Better to Search While Employed?
Filed under: General, Networking, Career
Posted by: John Hadley @ 9:13 pm

Comment from one of my readers:

“I say “WOW” to the comment “have the courage to walk away from the position you don’t want”.  (From Career Tips, March 2009 - email me at John@JHACareers.com for a copy.)

I find it interesting that one wouldn’t know if they wanted the position prior to the interview. However, I have found that once you’re on the job you may find out the position isn’t what was described and therefore not what you want.  In the current economy it’s an employer’s market where they have hundreds of applicants, so one may feel lucky, blessed or otherwise gifted to have been selected for a position.

I’ve heard it’s easier to find a job when one already has a job.  Do you subscribe to this philosophy and if so, wouldn’t it be better to take a not so perfect position and network in house to get to the position you want or continue to seek the desired position while you’re already in a position?”

My Answer:

No, I do not.  That was the thinking years ago when layoffs were much less common. 

If you don’t have a job because you got fired, or if you have a history of short duration jobs, or if you have a long gap (at least 6 months), then it’s a different story.

Generally, it is much easier to find a job when you aren’t employed, because then you have all of the prime working hours to devote to your search.  The most effective technique for job search is having lots of 1-on-1 networking meetings, mostly with people who are employed, and which therefore tend to take place during the working day.

If your goal is to get into a particular company, then an effective technique can be to find a job that is more or less a lateral move to get in the door, prove yourself there, and then work to get into the job you want.  This can be done whether you are already employed or not.

The challenge is that if the position isn’t one you are truly interested in, it will be harder to sell yourself for it.  Hiring managers want someone who is passionate about their work, and who are therefore more likely to put in the extra time and effort when needed.  If you don’t have that passion, it will be hard to fake it.  This is doubly hard if you are applying for a position beneath what you might qualify for, as then the hiring manager will be suspicious that you are just taking it to get in the door and make a move as soon as possible.

I’ve worked with more than one client who had been out of work 2 years, and by showing them how to market themselves effectively (with a strong emphasis on networking), within a few months both had landed at jobs they were thrilled with, right back at the responsibility and compensation levels they had been at before their layoffs.

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