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8 tips for job hunting while you're still employed

CIO spoke with industry experts to figure out the best way to conduct your new job search without losing your old job

Looking for a job requires a lot of time and effort on your part and it isn't something you should enter into lightly. Conducting a job search while you're still employed, according to many experts, is the best approach as candidates currently employed tend to be more attractive to hiring managers.

However, balancing your current job, your family and your job search can be exhaustive, and if you're not careful it could end in disaster.

There are countless reasons to look for a new job. Perhaps you feel like there's nowhere for you to go in your current role or maybe you just can't stand someone you work closely with every day. Before you start to send out resumes be sure you have thought things through.

"Talk about what may be frustrating you at work and determine if there are things that can be changed to make your issues better. If you want to move locations, it may be better to talk about that with your boss, as the company may want to discuss remote working options, "says Chad Lilly, director of recruiting at Lextech, a custom mobile apps company.

Bottom line, make sure your current role can't be salvaged. Could you transfer, change departments or work remotely? Is there something you can do to make your work more enjoyable and rewarding?

If the answer is no, then go, says Roy West, CEO of the Roy West Companies and senior scientist at the Gallup Organization. "You should go quietly, gracefully, swiftly and never look back. If you are not currently working for someone who clearly understands that your growth and their growth [boss/organisation] is an implied contract and common goal, then you are compelled to find one that does and will," says West.

So what do you do when you've decided it's time to move on? Most of us have been there at some point in our careers. Do you tell your boss or not? How do you handle interviews and references? To help bring a measure of clarity to your job search, CIO spoke with industry experts to figure out the best way to conduct your new job search without losing your old job.

Who can you tell

It's never a smart move to lie to your boss, but sometimes it may be a necessary evil if you want to hold onto your job. Some companies have a policy of letting people go who are actively searching for a job. So keep your job hunt on a need-to-know basis.

"In general, it is good practice to keep your job search quiet. You really have to trust the relationship you have with your boss to divulge this information," says Lilly, who has 16 years of experience working in the professional services market recruitment business.

In fact, Lily says, it's probably not wise to share this with anyone you work with. One misstep from a friendly coworker could mean a pink slip or damage your reputation with the company.

Donald Burns, executive career strategist and coach, agrees: "Absolutely do not tell your boss--doing so will compromise your most valuable asset, namely, your current employment. As soon as the company discovers you're looking, they will start looking for your replacement.

"Your job is probably toast. You've 'crossed the Rubicon' and there's no going back," says Burns. Knowing the company culture on this matter will help make a decision on which path to take.

Don't conduct your search on the company dime

Conducting your job search on company hours is never a good idea. When you are at your current job, it should be your primary focus. Underperforming is surely something that will tip off your boss that something is going on with you. It's unethical and not likely something that will get you a great recommendation from your present boss when the time comes.

Also, if you are trying to keep your job hunt discrete, this is a common way to get caught or at least to get the rumor mill grinding.

"If your employer finds out they can start looking for your replacement and fire you before you are ready to go. It also hurts your productivity and the rest of the team.

"You start holding back on committing to new work because most candidates do not want to leave in the middle of a project," says Lilly.

Recruiters understand that discretion is often part of the process and are willing to do what they can.

"If you are upfront with the recruiter they will do what they can to get you in. We are sympathetic to a point for getting the candidates in to meet. Most recruiters will talk off-hours or at lunch time," says Lilly. One tip he offers: List specific times to reach you on your resume.

Don't use company email addresses or phone numbers

Whether you're talking about social networking site profiles like LinkedIn and BranchOut or your resume, you really want to stick to using your personal email addresses and phone numbers for your accounts. Some experts even say you should restrict your job search to your personal PC. One inopportune email or phone call could alert your supervisor that you're considering leaving.

Using a work email address for your social media accounts is also a sure way to get yourself locked out of your profiles when you do leave and your old email address gets shut down or redirected. Whomever the email is redirected to will get your notifications and be privy to your updates, messages and who knows what else. You'd likely get control back after submitting a request but avoid the hassle and stick to personal email addresses for primary emails.

What should you do if your boss asks you directly?

If your boss asks you if you are looking, don't lie. "It may be best to be straightforward with your employer. You are at risk of being let go in this situation, depending on your past performance and standing with the company," says Lilly.

That said, there are some ways to spin it, according to the experts: "Lots of changes are happening here lately. I don't want to leave, but I'm a little nervous and just thinking about Plan B," Burns says, is one way to handle it.

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