As a recruiter, candidates who are already employed look much more attractive to us. Why? In my last blog post, I mentioned a study conducted by UCLA in 2011, which indicated that employers find you more trustworthy when you have a job. Intuitively, it makes sense. Steady, full-time employment shows that you are a responsible and dependable employee. Most likely, you get along with your peers and respect your boss, which shows good character.
Also, when you are already pre-occupied with another career, you seem less desperate. You have more confidence. And most importantly, you can be more selective about the job offers that come your way. You can leverage your salary and negotiate your benefits because you’re not worried about where that next paycheck is coming from.
However, there can be a downside to having a job while you are simultaneously job searching. If your job is very demanding, sometimes it is difficult to find the time to conduct tedious job searches, polish your resume, and go on time-consuming interviews. You may feel like it is overwhelming to look for a job when you have one, and therefore, you feel like you might as well just stay where you are, at a place you know well and feel comfortable in. Recruiters are a tremendous bonus in these situations. If you find a good recruiting firm, they can help you manage your time by conducting job searches for you.
Another disadvantage to having a job while you’re looking for one is lack of motivation. You may feel too complacent to make a career change. Recruiters can help passive candidates who aren’t sure by selling them the perks of the new position and pushing them to go through the interview process. Sometimes employees don’t know there is something better out there for them until they start looking.
In addition, a drawback for many employees is that they feel paranoid when they are interviewing at other companies. They fear that their boss or co-workers will find out they are looking elsewhere. It’s important to keep your professional searches quiet around the workplace because people like to gossip. Your searches and interviews should be conducted during your time, not during your work hours. Especially when it comes time for the new job offer, make sure you don’t tell anyone except your closest confidants until you know for sure that you landed the job. Have something in writing from your next employer before you give your two weeks notice. It’s also difficult to acquire a reference from your current job for your new job, so make sure you have other options.
If the employed are more appealing to recruiters and other employers, how do the unemployed stand a chance against them? Find at least a part-time job in your industry. Do contract work, freelance, or even volunteer free consulting to get yourself back in the game.