In my last class of school, my professor offered his students one piece of parting career advice that has stayed with me years later. The best time to find a job, he advised, was when you already have a job. You have the greatest leverage when the hiring manager knows you could walk away, he said.
This is advice that many employees beyond me are taking to heart. In a new survey from global staffing firm Accountemps, the vast majority of working professionals — 78% — said they felt at least somewhat comfortable looking for a new job while with their present company.
In fact, they were so comfortable that a majority of workers were also doing their job hunt at their current workplace. Sixty-four percent of respondents said they were doing their search from their jobs. But before you set up a job interview, you will need to be discreet, careers experts advise.
The perils of job hunting at your job
Millennials ages 18 to 34 were the most open to conducting job searches at their jobs, compared to older generations, according to the survey. Men were also more likely to job hunt on the clock with 72% of them looking, compared to 55% of women doing the same.
While job hunting at work is increasingly common, there are many ways this method can backfire, as a recent Wall Street Journal article illustrates. In the article, one job seeker told his boss he was going to a doctor’s appointment but forgot he had a shared calendar with his colleagues that revealed he was going to “interview with Company X.” The job seeker said his boss never fully trusted him again after the incident. It is a lesson in discretion. Even as you seek out a new job, you want to preserve your current relationships, because careers are long and you never know who you may work with again.
Job hunting, in general, is hard. Looking for a new job is an unpaid second job on top of your actual work. It can be easy to answer LinkedIn connections at your job. But career experts said that keeping boundaries between the two activities is key to keeping your current workplace happy.
“While it’s OK to pursue new opportunities while employed, a search should never interfere with your current job,” Michael Steinitz, executive director of Accountemps, said in a statement. “Schedule interviews during lunch breaks or outside of business hours, and avoid posting anything on social media that indicates you’re on the market.”