You’re gainfully employed. A few years ago, you liked your job a lot. You still like your job, or at least find it satisfying, but feel that you deserve to take the next step forward in your career. As you search for that next possible opportunity, you keep thinking, I have nothing to lose. If I don’t have a great interview, it’s alright because I still have a job. If you think like this – and are, in fact, too relaxed – you’re making a huge mistake. A mistake that can prevent you from taking the next step towards the career you want and deserve. “You may need a new job, you may want a new job, but you don’t have to have a new job, unlike someone who is out of work,” is how the Forbes magazine article, “The Dos and Don’ts of Job Searching While You’re Still Employed” describes the attitude of many passive job seekers. Overconfidence can be your enemy.
If you’re serious about exploring opportunities, the primary characteristic you should display in interviews is overpreparation, not overconfidence. Overpreparation means more than simply being prepared for a job interview you recently learned that you have. It means being prepared for a job interview at any given moment during your entire career, even during times when you are satisfied with your current situation and aren’t necessarily thinking about a vocational change. Specifically, overpreparation means:
Keeping Your Resume Updated: You don’t want to get a phone call on Monday asking you to interview for an incredible opportunity that week then realize you aren’t ready to hand over an impressive, recently updated resume.
Always Updating and Maintaining Professional Profiles: You might get a job interview based on something you’ve accomplished recently. Many hiring managers look to LinkedIn to find candidates, and nearly all check LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media sites between the time they schedule the interview and when it occurs.
Regularly Researching Competitors and Keeping Abreast of Industry News: If a company, especially one in a field related to your own, reaches out and expresses interest in possibly employing you, the last thing you want is to be caught completely off guard. The best way to avoid that scenario is to stay abreast of current events, industry news, and general actions of competitors.
Regularly Networking with People in Your Industry: If you really want a long and successful career, you should be forward-looking and be willing to spend time meeting people at networking events. Knowing people in related areas of business (actually all areas of business) is nearly a necessity nowadays, and it may lead to knowing someone at a company at which you pursue opportunities. Networking is one of the most effective ways to obtain jobs, because even if that individual doesn’t give a personal recommendation, they can easily make sure someone takes a real look at your resume (out of the stack of 100s or 1,000s).
Here are more common sense tips to think about when job searching and interviewing while employed:
* Keep your job search as discreet as possible. An employer might treat you negatively, in terms of promotions, wages, and assignments, if they know you are looking to leave. This means do NOT use your employer’s phones, computers, and other equipment in your search.
* Don’t EVER express a desire to find new career opportunities on social media or post your resume on online job boards.
* Don’t criticize your employer. This is a rule that should always be followed but is even more crucial when that company you’re badmouthing is currently cutting your checks. Generally, interviewers don’t care about your complaints, and would likely view you as a negative person who will probably criticize them someday.
* Praise your prospective employer. Since you researched the company, you should be able to compare your prospective employer to your current employer, in a favorable way, that makes you come across as positive, intelligent, and diligent.
* Schedule your interviews before or after work, or, if time permits, over your lunch break. Your prospective employer may be impressed that you are committed enough to make this request, as it shows that while you may not be satisfied with your job, you still take your responsibilities seriously, handle your business professionally, and honor your commitments.
* Don’t change how you dress at your current job. If you dress casually, you should continue to do so. If you want the prospective job bad enough, you will find a way to change into an appropriate wardrobe before and/or after an interview. Being overprepared for a job interview is hard work, but the hard work can result in career success and, ultimately, a better life.